Scott Shirley wrote this article for the Rexburg Standard Journal which a friend pointed me to.
Fire, Aim, Ready for Common Core
As a boy I remember watching my father target practice. He would make himself ready with the proper stance, even to the point of steadying his breath. Aiming was critical. The slightest adjustment, up or down, made a huge difference. At just the right time he would pull the trigger. Ready, aim, fire. We still have the trophies he won.
Common Core and Obama Care (Affordable Health Care) have something in common in terms of preparation. It was the opinion of politicians that something needed to be done regarding health care. A document was drafted. “What’s in it?” the American people asked. “Trust us. We need to implement it in order to fully understand.” Fire, aim, ready.
Common Core State Standards followed similar steps. I have searched for any formal study, one that was not funded by those who stood to gain economically, that shows nationally mandated education standards are beneficial. Common sense would suggest they should, yet if formal studies, conducted by reputable and respected unbiased institutions exist, showing significant benefits, help me find them, and I will be content to follow the crowd. It appears there was no “ready.”
It is politically popular to say that education in Idaho needs reform. I invite readers to check for themselves in regard to proficiency scores of their local schools. Compare them with averages across the state of Idaho, and then compare them with national averages. You may or may not be surprised. Before believing educational statistics quoted by politicians, ask them to show you the reputable study from which it came. We must know, before we aim, that we are focusing on the right target in the first place. Without proper study, or homework, we cannot really know.
I have been in education long enough to see educational program after program come and go (Does No Child Left Behind come to mind?). These programs were well intended (aim), but poorly researched (ready) and touted as “the answer,” thereby being mandated (fire). I am not opposed to standards of excellence. I want to know that my efforts are being made toward goals that have been researched with rigor, showing over time that significant student growth can be predicted based on solid evidence. Again, show me something other than studies made by those who stand to profit, and I will be content.
So, what do I suggest in the meantime? I believe true learning, learning that makes a difference, is based upon the relationship between teacher and student. Children will not remember which program was or was not implemented during their education, but they will remember how teachers made them feel, that they could develop a love of learning, that a world of opportunity lay ahead of them.
Watching my father target practice, and having him teach me as well, taught me practical lessons I have found useful in many areas throughout my life: Ready, aim, fire.