Odds are, if it wasn't for the arrest of Ellicott City's Robert Small at a state hearing in Towson on the new Common Core, the new standards wouldn't be getting quite the attention it is today. But since nothing draws attention better than a video that goes viral, Small's arrest [charges were subsequently dropped] after verbally challenging officials at the meeting put the Common Core in the minds of the public.
For the record, the Common Core, a set of standards adopted in 2010 by 45 states, is supposed to ensure that students across the country have common academic goals. The idea of the Common Core is for students to become more engaged in their education through more hands-on learning and less of teachers lecturing students. States received federal Race to the Top grants as an incentive to join, with Maryland's take at $250 million.
Some administrators and teachers feel there has not been enough time to implement the new standards. Other educators have complained that the Common Core instruction isn't aligned with assessments, making standardized testing "awkward" during the continuing transition to Common Core in the classroom. In fact, the misalignment of classroom instruction and standardized testing was blamed specifically for some declining math scores when state assessment numbers were released last summer.
Clearly, Common Core has been launched with a few hurdles to navigate. Yet at the same time, some Laurel educators are expressing optimism that, after some "growing pains," the change will be a good thing. Let's hope they are correct and that a lack of preparation won't prove a stumbling block.