Kyle Wingfield, John Barge, and Common Core

By: Eric The Younger

At the beginning of October, Kyle Wingfield at the AJC had a good article (MyAJC article) about the confusion around the Common Core State Standards. As a response to this article the State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge answered several of the questions that Wingfield asked.

Why bring this up almost two months later? Mostly because Sen. Fran Millar recently tweeted out the Barge response. Here’s the link. The response was very wonkish (awesome for me, not so much for non-wonks) and four pages long, so not really a quick cut and paste kinda thing. I’ll try and hit the highlights and key points.

The first question was in regards to which set of Standards ( Common Core State Standards or Georgia Performance Standards) was stronger, as well as questions about modifying the CCSS. Barge’s answer was very long and qualified, in short it depends on which standard you’re looking at. Some of the standards are the same (81% ELA and 90% Math), some CCSS standards are more rigorous and some of the GPS standards are stronger.

The cool thing about this? We can keep/add in the GPS standards that are stronger to the CCSS standards. And that’s what we did, according to John Barge.

Then there is the standard question about state sovereignty and outside groups controlling curriculum. This is probably one of the most misunderstood parts about the CCSS. Barge’s answer?

The Common Core State Standards establish general grade level academic expectations which provide a structure for teachers. Instructional strategies and practices instituted to meet those expectations continue to be the decision of local education agencies. By adopting CCSS, Georgia has established a structure that can be adjusted as needed. The state has not agreed to shift even slightly from its stance on locally controlled decision making regarding curriculum and instruction.

Can we please stop saying teachers can’t teach anymore yet?

There are a few others that I haven’t covered that are definitely worth reading but one last one that I would like to address is one about how the CCSS would affect innovation in teaching and education. Barge has another good answer.

It is important to recognize that CCSS offers a structure in establishing academic standards for each grade level, but the standard set does not direct instructional practice. Common Core would not stifle innovation, but instead could foster effective changes as teachers across state lines share successes and novel approaches to teaching and learning.

John Barge seems to be very confused on where he stands on the issue, but he does do a fairly good job of defending the CCSS when not at a Cobb County GOP breakfast.

Nancy Jester, running for Georgia Superintendent, said in her MDJ article:

Our state spends in the top 10 nationally on education, yet, most of our education metrics hover in the bottom five. We have to admit that we need a change in leadership on educational issues in Georgia. Rigorous standards need to be adopted, but they must be part of a process that continues to innovate and is not beholden to a central authority. Georgia has a long road ahead but Common Core is not a path to prosperity.

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