Leading Up to the Common Core Changes
By Jay Greenlinger, Principal
This is Part 1 of 3 in a series of articles related to the current change taking place in the U.S., California, and – most importantly – at La Mariposa.
Part 1: Leading to Change
Public education can be compared to a pendulum. The big movements in education swing back and forth from one extreme to the next. Experienced teachers know all too well this back and forth routine that sees changes in teaching and learning repeat itself, leading to a mantra of “This too shall pass.” Every few years, teachers are presented with what- the research indicates- are the best ways to teach students. These movements often create debate or disagreement that can be based on economics, politics, or educational philosophies and theories. For example, you may recall the “Whole Language vs. Phonics” debates of the 1990’s, which divided the educational world. Here is a lengthy summary of that debate, if you’re interested.
The Standards Movement grew out of economic fears raised by the 1983 publication of A Nation at Risk. Since the start of the “Standards Movement,” though, there has been little change as to WHAT students are supposed to learn in every grade. The California State Standards have remained nearly unchanged since the mid-1990s. The California State Standards are often described as “a mile wide and an inch deep,” referring to the fact that teachers are expected to teach more skills and concepts than there are days in the school year. Combine the large number of standards with the high stakes accountability testing our students take each year, and you have a recipe for schools to focus on only the tested subjects (Language Arts, Math, and 4th/5th grade science), while neglecting subjects that are just as important for building future leaders and thinkers (Social Studies, Art, Music, PE, Technology Skills).
Fortunately, La Mariposa has made a concerted effort to ensure that students have meaningful instruction in the non-tested subjects. We are happy to report that our 3 specialist teachers will be returning! (Music- Ms. Lorenzo, PE- Coach Thompson, and Computer Lab- Ms. Barnes). Of course, your support of our PTA programs helps us provide these instructors. But that’s not the point of this article…..It’s important for parents to recognize that La Mariposa seeks to provide educating and inspiring experiences to every student- every day.
The last three paragraphs are a build up. I’ve pointed out that education goes through significant change every few years. I’ve highlighted the impact of the Standards Movement, and connected the standards and testing to show that California standards are, in a word, imperfect.
In Part 2 of this article, I will explain how teaching and learning is currently in a state of upheaval. Part 3 will detail how the teachers of La Mariposa have prepared for the coming changes. Most importantly, we will outline how these changes will improve your child’s learning experiences at school.
- Part 2: New Standards
- Part 3: How LMS teachers are taking a leadership role to prepare for the changes. (Coming Soon)
Jay Greenlinger, Principal