Recently, the Obama administration announced a new education program, Every Student Succeeds Act, to improve public schools. Governor Ige jumped on the band wagon and announced that he will form a 17-member team headed up by the former principal of Moanalua High School, Darrel Galera. Under the Bush administration, No Child Left Behind, initiative sounded promising; however, in hindsight the program did not meet expectation. One must wonder whether this new initiative will deliver the many needed improvements outlined in its 1,000 pages.
There is a ray of light in the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new federal law returns authority back to the states. However, it is tied to the states that have adopted Common Core curriculum. The new initiative stipulates that an individual state must have adopted Common Core for English and math in 2010 along with the adoption of Next Generation of Science Standards. The idea that a state must have adopted Common Core curriculum in 2010 to acquire the financial benefits under the new ESSA should be concerning.
Common Core is a curriculum that was never tested. It is much like the Whole Language Approach to Reading which was adopted in the late 1980s and 1990s. Goodman introduced Whole Language which was basically void of phonetic decoding. The state of California gave an apology to its students for the “failure” of Goodman’s reading program. At the time, Hawaii used the Whole Language Approach to Reading and eliminated phonics from all of its elementary schools. Whole Language Approach to Reading like Common Core was never tested. Common Core math is very confusing. In order to teach it in the classroom, seasoned teachers need to attend many workshops. If teachers need workshops to learn Common Core math, then what does a concerned parent do when their child comes home with Common Core math homework? The truth of the matter is many teachers are also frustrated, but concern for their job security, they remain silent.
In 2010, Common Core was adopted nation-wide; however, some states have chosen not to use Common Core. Isn’t it interesting that the ESSA requires adoption of 2010 Common Core in order to reap the benefits tied to the new law. The law states that “all authority” for public education will be returned to the states, but only if, the state adopted the 2010 Common Core.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is set to take effect next summer. It replaces the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. The 2002 law required that every student be proficient in English and math. The vision was promising, but many schools failed because the standards were based on one set of standards for all schools to meet. Recently, Corvid Academy tutoring services have received an influx of students coming for math help. Parents are frustrated and unable to help their child with his or her Common Core math homework. The comment we hear often from parents is “It is not at all like the math I learned.” Many students that are enrolled in our private tutoring sessions lack basic math foundations, like multiplication and division facts. There is no evidence that Common Core math is increasing students’ final assessment scores.