Educators Know Common Core Is Not a Curriculum. Others Don’t Seem to Get It

A recent Yahoo! Parenting article—which actually emphasizes educators’ strong support for the Common Core—conflates the standards with curriculum and claims one would be “hard pressed to find a nice word about the curriculum from parents.”

“Common Core is a set of standards—not a curriculum,” former Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote last year. “It does not specify how lessons are taught in the classroom or what textbooks must be used…It is up to local educators and policy makers to choose how they will implement the Common Core standards.”

Even a teacher that is quoted within the article identifies the difference between standards and curriculum. “Common Core is a term that is often misunderstood,” says one New York teacher. “Common Core is a set of standards or topics that should be covered at each grade level.”

Contrary to the article’s claim, parents overwhelmingly support academic expectations that fully prepare students for college and careers. As Karen Nussle pointed out last year, study after study confirms “support for high, consistent standards, by any name, remains strikingly strong.”

That is one reason why states are continuing the move forward with implementation. After five years and two national elections, only one of the 45 states to initially adopt the standards—Oklahoma—has replaced the standards with a set of distinctly different learning goals. Instead, states are reviewing the standards, making changes and building on them—exactly as they were designed.

The perseverance of Common Core State Standards may best be summed up by support among teachers—which is captured in the Yahoo! article.

“I believe that the premise of the Common Core learning standards is a good idea,” says one educator with more than 20 years of experience. “In math especially, I see children who are able to break down numbers to understand them better, they understand how to perform problems in many ways.”

“One of the things I love the most about Common Core State Standards is that they are broad enough that teachers can tailor their teaching to their students while working toward the academic benchmarks that the standards set,” adds a Rhode Island teacher. “The standards offer a great opportunity for personalizing learning.”

That hardly sounds like a national curriculum the article suggests.