We have all heard Common Core bashing. Statements like the Common Core will "undermine student individuality, teacher autonomy, and mark a dangerous takeover of local control." Unlike many of the Core-bashing voices, I am a classroom teacher with actual experience teaching with Common Core, and I beg to differ.


As a teenager, I was in a band. Well...technically, I was in the band. Anyone who has survived high school can tell you that there is a huge difference. Guys in a band get gigs, friends, and dates. Guys in the band--they get punched.


In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes the archetypical protagonist who feels compelled to embark on a quest. Over the course of the journey, there are many challenges, as well as support, assistance, and successes. Ultimately, after enduring and overcoming a supreme ordeal, the hero undergoes a form of resurrection because of the life-changing power of the experience. It is a universal formula for transformative stories across cultures and generations.


We need more teacher leaders in our schools. To be clear, one does not need to be an administrator, a team leader, or even a department chair to be a leader. Leadership is not a position, but rather action. This can be done by anyone regardless of title or position within a school building.


Hidy all! It's been a lively January at RHSU. I unveiled the 2014 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings (appreciate the enthusiastic interest in this little pet project) and have gotten into a heated discussion with some good friends about how to respond to Secretary Duncan's continuing, cavalier urge to treat the Common Core push as just one more element of his copious agenda. Meanwhile, I'm deep into writing my new book, The Cage-Busting Teacher, and am taking the next few weeks to work on it. The upshot: you get a break from me, and we've got a terrific lineup of ...


Those who follow New York City schools have been witnessing a time-honored ritual -- pro-testing school reformers have mightily overreached, inviting pushback that's now poised to dismantle much of their useful handiwork. Mayor de Blasio has said that he and his new chancellor, Carmen Fariña, will "do everything in our power to reduce focus on high-stakes testing." At the press conference where he introduced Fariña, de Blasio said, "[Testing] has taken us down the wrong road and, within limits of state and federal law, we will do all we can to roll back that focus." This strident stance is misguided ...


Last night, in the State of the Union, President Obama played it pretty safe when it came to education. He was for more college affordability, higher expectations and performance for K-12, and more pre-K. Not much that anyone is going to object to. Even his oblique reference to "more challenging curriculums" was pretty darn discreet, so much so that I was a little surprised to see analysis so immediately flag it as a veiled reference to the Common Core.


This week is School Choice Week. I generally hate these designated "weeks," as they're mostly an occasion for p.r. extravaganzas and an opportunity for the faithful to bang the drum. And, for better or worse, that's not really my scene. That said, it turns out that choice week is also the occasion for a cluster of pretty cool things.


On Monday, I penned a column for National Review Online titled "What Ever Happened to 'State-Led'" that seemed to frustrate and puzzle a number of Common Core advocates. I heard from plenty of friends and acquaintances who thought I was unreasonable and unfair.


Three years ago, UC-Irvine's Greg Duncan and Harvard's Dick Murnane published a terrific edited volume titled Whither Opportunity? That volume summarized a slew of evidence on trends in educational outcomes and on how families, schools, and all the rest shape life outcomes for kids. Anyway, that's the backdrop for Duncan and Murnane's new book, Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education, which has just been published by my good friends at Harvard Education Press.


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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