Sometimes we are criticized for not offering solutions, but the truth is, we have done that over and over again on this site. This page will be dedicated to showing solutions to the Common Core problem.
For a full run down on why partisan elections are a superior way to hold school board elections, please click here.
The core solution to all of these problems is re-enthroning local control where every school has a local board that makes decisions for that school on standards, curriculum, assessments, finances, hiring the principal, etc… That would solve many of the problems we face. Here’s a presentation on how to do this.
Ending Compulsory Education
If schools had no guarantee that students would attend, they would have to provide a compelling reason for the students to attend. Students would have to feel like they were getting value out of their education. This reform alone would change the entire landscape of education within a few short years. No more bored children who are stuck in a class that is too slow, and no more stress cases for children stuck in a class that is too advanced for them. Parents and their children would have much greater say in how the schools operated. It’s also morally wrong.
Until we can get to this point, here are things the state should consider:
If anyone is still confused that the Utah core IS Common Core for math and ELA, click here.
Utah should heavily consider adopting California’s pre-Common Core math standards which have tripled the number of students proficient in algebra by 8th grade in 10 years. Low socioeconomic and minority students have had a six times increase in that same period. These standards were specifically benchmarked at creation, to be 6 months behind Japan and Singapore so they are one of the few sets of standards internationally benchmarked and have proven their worth.
English Language Arts
In 2001, Massachusetts created what are probably the best ELA standards in the country with the help of Dr. Sandra Stotsky. These standards help MA rise to the top of national testing because of their clarity and thoroughness. In 2010, Dr. Stotsky further improved those standards with tweaks based on what had been learned in that 9 year time span. Since MA has adopted Common Core, she has released them for free for any state that wants to use them. Dr. Stotsky has offered to come to Utah and work with teachers here to create our own standards that would be the best in the country (not hard compared to Common Core ELA). I recommend we adopt Dr. Stotsky’s revision and use something that was built on a proven model.
On Science, History, and other subjects
Avoid the Common Core standards for these subjects. We want no part of them. Find the best state or other nations standards available and have a small parent committee review them and adopt one for Utah. Find what works well and stop reinventing the wheel. The USOE is intent on adopting national science and social studies standards.
Assessments drive classroom instruction, particularly when you have teachers pay and evaluations tied to those tests, as well as school grading. Stop SAGE tests and terminate the Statewide Longitudinal Database System. Stop tracking our children. Terminate the AIR contract. If you don’t understand why yet, here’s a couple of videos.
Use research based curriculum that parents and children can all reference and understand. One of the major gripes about Common Core is that parents often take a back seat to confusing math problems which serves only one purpose…separating parents from children and teaching those children that their teacher is smarter than their parents because only the teacher knows how to do the problems (in this unique way).
Pay 100% of the cost of a child’s education to the local school where that child attends. Then let that local school decide what services they want to purchase from their school district or the state office of education. Every entity must invoice the local school for services so that the school board at that school can monitor 100% of the expenses of the children at that school. Everyone providing a service must make it so compelling to that school that they want to spend the money there rather than pay teachers more or hire additional staff to reduce class sizes. This ties into the local control item above.
On the State Board of Education
Lets have the state board set broad standards and policies and then let local schools set firmer standards and policies. The board should relinquish as much control as possible. Make state standards suggestions for the districts and let districts do whatever they decide is in the best interest of their students.
On the State Office of Education
There is almost no reason we need a state office of education. They do nothing to help children in the classroom. They are a bureaucratic layer that must justify its existence by constant research and tweaking. Cut the red tape and save this money for other purposes.