Even with Congress in recess and the N.C. General Assembly home after its 2013 session, the political silly season shows little sign of ending.
The latest target is Common Core, a curriculum that was developed through bipartisan efforts by educators and leaders all over the country, led by the National Governors Association.
The curriculum has been adopted by 45 states, including North Carolina, where the N.C. Board of Education voted to approve it 2010. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said he supports the program. Its standards make sense. He has called for improvements to the way the curriculum is taught.
In some ways, the Common Core could be called Common Sense. The curriculum emphasizes parallel learning in different subjects related to a specific theme. Students who are studying the Civil War in history class, for example, might also take on Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage” or Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” in English class.
But to hear some right-wing commentators, Common Core signals a federal takeover of the education system. One radio host was appalled to learn the curriculum included the economy, government and the Revolutionary War. What, pray tell, did he study in high school?
A substitute teacher in Wake County was perturbed by a poem her students recited about the program:
Fractions, decimals, journal prompts galore
We learned more with Common Core.
The partisan climate in America seems so poisonous, one wonders how leaders today ever could have agreed to the word choices of the Pledge of Allegiance – even if “one nation under God” had been part of the original proposal.
In addition to the logical connections that underline Common Core, the curriculum offers a chance to compare the quality of learning between states. With countries such as India, Ireland and China competing heavily against the United States for the best graduates to fill high-tech jobs, doesn’t it make sense to make sure a high school student in North Carolina is just as well educated as one in Connecticut?
It’s a shame the efforts of a group that went out of its way to be bipartisan in the first place now are subject to second-guessing on a partisan stage. That kind of squabbling only distracts teachers and students who have a more important task at hand – education.