by Diane Ravitch
Tuesday I went to the launch of a new organization called Common Core. Its primary goal is to advocate for a rich, coherent, content-based curriculum, one that includes the full range of liberal arts and sciences.Common Core will seek to fill the vacuum that was created by the demise several years ago of the Council for Basic Education. That organization, founded by giants like Clifton Fadiman, Arthur Bestor, and Jacques Barzun, was an eloquent voice for history, literature, mathematics, sciences, the arts, geography, and civics.
Common Core will seek to persuade states and school districts, as well as federal officials, that students will be better educated and perhaps even do better on tests if they have a broad education. We are betting that schools with curricula like Core Knowledge produce better educated students, and that they don’t need to spend a disproportionate amount of time preparing to take content-free standardized tests.
Toni Cortese, executive vice-president of the American Federation of Teachers, and I are co-chairs of Common Core. The board includes an outstanding array of practitioners and scholars (more about that later, as I want to be sure when I list their names that I didn’t leave anyone out). Our executive director is Lynne A. Munson, who has labored for over a year to bring the organization to life and get it off to a good start.
We hope to sponsor research, conduct conferences, publish reports, and do similar things to change the climate and to move our schools away from the current unhealthy obsession with testing. We are not opposed to testing, but don’t think that tests are the be-all and end-all of education.
I certainly hope that the efforts of Common Core will help to strengthen and promote Core Knowledge, as our goals are closely aligned. Core Knowledge, of course, differs from Common Core in that CK supports schools across the nation. Common Core won’t do that. Instead, it will advocate for the goals and mission that we all share: a richly educated student, a coherent and thoughtful content-based curriculum.
More about Common Core as it takes shape.