The Obamacare debacle is not helping the Common Core roll-out

by Grace

Implementation challenges have made the Common Core look more and more like Obamacare.

… States that raced to adopt the standards in 2010, including Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, have expressed second thoughts on participating. In New York, Common Core critics have called for the resignation of education commissioner John King after he threatened to cancel a series of town halls on the topic. At a convening hosted by the Education Writers Association earlier this week, the president of the American Federation of Teachers declared that the implementation of the Common Core is “far worse” than the troubled launch of Obamacare.

Glenn Reynolds finds it interesting “that the opposition comes from a broad political spectrum”.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan probably regrets injecting race into the debate with this clumsy declaration.

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,”

He later “apologized” by basically slapping “himself on the wrist for calling out one group instead of everybody who objects to top-down standardization”.

The reality is that education standards have fallen.

As a “suburban mom”, I agree with Duncan in feeling frustrated at “the educational reality” of low standards that falsely show our children are achieving at high levels.  At the same time, I sympathize with the opponents of the top-down, heavy-handed design and implementation of Common Core.

Its similarities to Obamacare leave Common Core more open to criticism.

In his blog post about problems with Common Core implementation, Andy Smarick writes about the federal government’s promise that “If you like your federal education policy, you can keep it!”  At one point the Department of Education found itself “offering states a waiver from their waivers“.


8 Comments to “The Obamacare debacle is not helping the Common Core roll-out”

  1. Interesting. This am, to me, implementation of Common Core seems quite different from the Affordable Care Act – in particular because the specifics of CC implementation are up to the individual districts and schools. I wonder how much of the uproar is due to schools which are responding too slowly to CC. Last night I attended a presentation on how the middle school here is implementing CC and I was impressed with the degree to which they are out in front of the changes – no complaining, just detailed information on what they’re doing and going to do. They are already deep into planning for how to implement the new science standards, NGSS, which were adopted by the state this fall.

    Locally (in a rather white suburban town) the only point of repeated concern on CC has been on what would happen with the math sequence at middle and high school – fear being that the top math level would be dropped. I don’t know exactly what is up with that – that’ll be a major topic at another meeting tonight at the high school. The high school has been flat-footed in their response to CC, so I’m expecting a much more contentious meeting tonight.


  2. “I wonder how much of the uproar is due to schools which are responding too slowly to CC.”

    Here in NY, much of the concern has to do with how hastily CC is being implemented. For example, students are being tested on the standards before teachers are trained and before students have been taught to the new standards. In the school’s defense, it’s hard to see how such a big change could be implemented in one year, which seems to be the expectation. One report about teacher training made it sound that the training was mainly about how they could learn to teach to the test.

    This is eerily similar to the rushed implementation of some parts of the ACA, the website just being the most visible example. But in this case, there’s more of a sense that it could have been done much better, given the 3-year timetable.


  3. Having worked in the field, on systems very similar to, I know way too much about what went wrong. They could have given it 10 years and the outcome would have been the same. The problem is with the healthcare IT mindset, and the fact (not much reported in the press except by a few specialists) that the payers software is as chaotic as the website, and has usually been chaotic for years. Makes it very hard to do electronic data interchange, which is what this is all about


  4. I sort of sympathize with the teachers, but I also see why they pushed on it. It is so easy to keep dragging feet, and higher standards can get lost in a sea of delay and procrastination. Whether they do it fast or slow, it isn’t easy to bring in higher standards because it means telling lots of middle class families that their kids weren’t really doing as well as they thought.


  5. “They could have given it 10 years and the outcome would have been the same.”

    That doesn’t make it sound too promising that the website will be working any time soon.


  6. I can also see the rationale in pushing CC implementation, but it may turn out to backfire if the anger builds up to a point where it triggers more delays or ultimate failure.


  7. Yeah, I’m in CA currently, so the delay in switching the tests means that they are managing to implement changes in teaching first. At least, that is true at the middle school, but the middle school seems very well managed. They’ve already started planning for the science standard changes – and that’s going to be a major change at the middle school level.

    I know the teachers locally feel a lot of time pressure in spite of the somewhat longer timeline for the test rollout.


  8. Oh, I said that already….never mind me…


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