Even the Democrats are now backing away from Common Core, as earlier this month Hillary Clinton criticized the Common Core structure as a “one-size-fits-all model for education.”
At a roundtable meeting with teachers from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an organization that endorsed Clinton for president this summer, Clinton responded to questions on education-related issues, including several questions regarding the Common Core.
In response to a question regarding the amount of testing that students undergo, Clinton said she agreed with President Obama that we have become too focused on testing. From the beginning of the campaign, she said, she has called for “fewer, better tests.”
Another teacher asked Secretary Clinton how teachers can “meet the diverse needs of students and their learning styles,” since the rigidness of Common Core has resulted in “standardization of education.”
[S]ome of what’s gone on has been well-meaning but misplaced, and one of the well-meaning but misplaced areas that I have seen over the years is this emphasis on standardizing learning, and holding out college as the goal and stripping schools of technical education, of what used to be called vocational education, of job preparation and the like.
Now, the motive behind that was largely, I think, well-meaning but, as I say, misplaced, because there were too many places where kids were just warehoused. It was one of the reasons why the aggregate data issue was so important. Don’t leave out kids when you’re doing accountability because then you’ll just leave them behind, and we will see that they will be ignored and marginalized.
So that’s why I say I think it was well-meaning, but it was misplaced because what you’re talking about is really an example of how we are not serving those students very well. And we have created a one-size-fits-all model for education.
Now, I don’t want to give anybody any excuses to walk away from or ignore the hard-to-teach kids, the special ed kids, the disciplinary kids, all of that. But I also understand that if you’re trying to fit different kids with different interests, different habits, different patterns of learning and all the rest of it, into one channel, it’s not going to work. And it creates great frustration for teachers, for students, for families. And I think that’s been a large part of the reaction to the Common Core, especially in New York where people are just, this makes no sense at all; here’s what I think my kid needs, or here’s what my class needs.
While Clinton still straddles the fence on Common Core, the fact that she has one foot on the other side of this issue is extremely telling. Every rational person wants high quality education for our children—the question now is whether politicians will admit that Common Core is actually a path in the opposite direction.
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Anna Pfaff works for the American Principles Project.