E. D. Hirsch: Are Schools Dumbing Down the Common Core?

by Maggie Gallagher

E. D. Hirsch, whose work I’ve long admired, whose books I used to teach my own child, is now asking a good question: Are schools dumbing down the Common Core?

Many of the current criticisms aren’t really directed against the standards themselves but against the frantic directives that principals and superintendents are sending out to teachers. I agree that some school administrators are reacting to the coming of the standards in strange and unproductive ways — just as they did when No Child Left Behind became law. But the standards don’t require folly — against which the gods themselves struggle in vain.

This is the flaw in all centralized theory of governance: the gap between the law as intended and the law as implemented. But that simply underscores Diane Ravitch’s central complaint: These standards have not been field-tested to determine if adopting them improves education or not. 

The first rule for reformers is “do no harm.” Hirsch relies on some tests of one curriculum that is common-core compliant and its success for some K–second graders. He is too good a scholar not to recognize the evidence gap here: Good results for a pilot curriculum in a small number of classrooms is not a good evidence base for sweeping national adoption of untested curriculum standards.

This too underscores the huge evidence gap between the claims made about Common Core and what we know will happen if we impose them on 45 states all at once.  

And here’s a roundup of Common Core news:

Georgia’s Governor Deal has signed an executive order forbidding the collection of certain kinds of personal data on Georgia schoolchildren.

Truth in American Education says Deal’s executive order is “meaningless.” 

Governor Jerry Brown says implementing Common Core will cost California taxpayers $1 billion.

The Utah Republican party will vote on Common Core this Saturday

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