Magazine article Technology & Learning

With Common Core and NCLB, Are We Missing the Point?

Magazine article Technology & Learning

With Common Core and NCLB, Are We Missing the Point?

Article excerpt

At the CIO Leadership Summit last September, hosted by Tech & Learning magazine, Melissa Dodd, CIO of Boston Public Schools, noted during an excellent presentation on the state of IT in her district that Massachusetts was the birthplace of American public education. That made me think--what would Horace Mann or the authors of the "Old Deluder Law" have to say about education today? Are we creating a common culture for all of America and providing students with the necessary tools to be successful in the same? Those men hoped that common public schools would allow all Americans to be integrated in a productive society and that children from the most desperate circumstances would be able to utilize public education to rise out of their current circumstances and be successful. Specifically, what would they think with regard to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core State standards (CCSS) that are filling the nation's educational thought bubbles at this point in time?

Mann would probably be quite happy with the focus on college and career readiness, but the lack of focus on citizenship and a shared American history and culture might unnerve him a bit. However, Mann has often been criticized as being anti-intellectual and too practical in his approach to American schooling. Those who want to focus on career and workplace readiness would definitely have a strong supporter in Mann. However, I think the entire lack of any strong push for a shared American culture via strong (or any) social studies standards or assessment would unnerve him a great deal. It is interesting to speak to social studies teachers about their views of the CCSS and other high-stakes testing. Although they enjoy not being under the high-stakes testing gun, they commonly comment that social studies, history, and government aren't really part of the "core content" in schools at the moment. Language arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are the focus of nearly all of the national conversations about curriculum. Some play is given to world languages and the need to understand other cultures, but what about understanding the American culture (even with its focus on dead white men)? …

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