Mojo Investigates the Common Core

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mojo continues in his investigative mode. His reading glasses are still perched on his head and his nose continues on the grindstone.

His zeal to be educated about education has been fueled by recent letters to the editor attacking the Common Core. One in particular from Judy Clarke, the President of the Georgetown Republican Womanís Club, has given Mojo reason to think that there must be more behind the attacks than the Common Core itself.

According to Mojoís research, the Common Core originated in 2009 when the National Governorís Association and a group of educators versed in best practices representing the Council of State School Officers (state superintendents of education ...) got together. A working group recommended a core set of assessments for K-12. The bottom line was helping students throughout the country receive an education that prepares them for the workforce and/or higher education. The Common Core is not a national curriculum. Therein lies some of the misunderstanding.

The Core assessments include areas such as reading, writing, speaking and listening, math, language (including computer skills and math), ... Mojo was particularly pleased to find out that teaching methodology for the Core includes a heavy emphasis on problem solving, strategic thinking, and interdisciplinary studies (he has believed that the best work is done at the edges of disciplines as they come together). Mojo was impressed that the Core seems to champion an approach that puts a premium on a partnership between parents and teachers. And he really wagged his tail as he learned that there is a great deal of flexibility built into the suggested processes. One size does not fit all.

Fifty-one states and territories have bought into the Core. Federal grants are available to help states implement the effort. To my way of thinking, the grants are not unlike grants from the Federal government to help with infrastructure needs in our states.

Ms. Clarke urges everyone to learn about education, particular the Core. Mojo and I could not agree more. We followed her thinking until she took off on a conspiracy theory. Indeed, it was like watching a jet plane take off. You can follow it for awhile on the runway and then zoom. According to Ms. Clarke, and I assume the Republican women in Georgetown County, the Core might just be an attempt by the federal government to gain control of our childrenís minds through centralized education. I wonder how that squares with the origins of the Core coming from the governors of the states? I wonder how that squares with the independent problem solver the approach hopes to develop?

Mojo thinks that the reaction of Ms. Clarke and those in the conspiracy camp comes out of fear, not rational thought. The big bad wolf at their door is always the federal government. The wolf is everywhere. (In fact, Mojo has sometimes been mistaken for the wolf). Thatís too bad because in the long run our children do suffer. The reason our state ranks so low in education is the big bad wolf federal government not the need to take a look at our process of education. The reason companies seeking to relocate to SC have trouble finding an educated workforce is the big bad wolf.

Our founders, in their wisdom, did establish a system of checks and balances. But above all, Madison, Hamilton and the like, sought to establish a nation that was capable of meeting the needs of the day and not a loose confederation incapable of reacting as a people to challenges. To the founders, a mouse was a small rodent and a twitter was a bird. Globalization was placing a spherical map in your library. My hunch is that they would applaud the Core effort since it seeks to make our young people competitive on the world stage.


The Rev. Dr. Jim Watkins and Mojo

Pawleys Island

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