Perhaps the biggest problem yet for the credibility of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is their reported involvement with reintroduction of some widely discredited notions about math and reading instruction. Good standards should not lead educators to chase down old, unproductive rabbit trails, but that fruitless chasing is going on right now in schools across the nation.
The web is alive with stories about crazy math problems that confuse kids, and there are even reports of failed reading programs coming back, as well.
For example, in “Why Johnny won’t learn to read, Balanced literacy is baaaack,” New York Daily News Op-Ed writer Robert Pondiscio laments the fact that – under the watch of the CCSS – the new Schools Chancellor in New York City is bringing back a widely discredited “Whole Language” reading program known as “Balanced Literacy.”
Furthermore, while Pondiscio claims that Common Core does not include the “Whole Language” approaches, there is good evidence that at least one well-known and very key supporter of Common Core most definitely thinks the ideas of Whole Language actually are in line with CCSS.
In 2010 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released “Supporting Instruction,” a “monograph” describing Gates’ vision about how school instruction would operate under Common Core.
Some of the ideas pushed in “Supporting Instruction” include such Whole Language concepts as:
“Students work in small groups, engage in discussion, take responsibility for their own learning, and learn from each other, often by examining each other’s work.” (Pg. 5)
“…the Common Core State Standards expect literacy instruction to be included in a number of subjects out¬side of ELA, including science and social studies/history.” (Pg. 8)
If you doubt that these ideas are from Whole Language, you will have to fight with the Kentucky Department of Education.
The department issued a document in 1993 called “Transformations: Kentucky’s Curriculum Framework, Volume II.” It is only available in hard copy, but a somewhat more recent, searchable online version of “Transformations” is available here.
Search the online version with the term “Whole Language” to find many areas which read almost exactly like the Gates 2010 document. Or, jump to page 133 in the online version of Transformations to find a whole section titled: “VIII. Whole Language Approach” (the section reads essentially exactly like the 1993 print version’s). Compare what you find in that part of Transformations to the Gates monograph and prepare to be disturbed.
Whether or not Whole Language really is in CCSS may be moot at this point. The reality is the confusion surrounding CCSS is allowing discredited education fads to resurface in our schools.
Sadly – under the umbrella of Common Core – Whole Language, as Mr. Pondiscio laments, is “baaaack.” While education overseas is jumping ahead in leaps and bounds, our students and teachers are headed down those same, unproductive rabbit trails, yet again.