You pretty much have to live under a rock, and a really big one at that, to not have heard the term Common Core Standards.
Ok, well I have a new one for you, have you heard of the Next Generation Science Standards?
Sounds good, right?
I mean who doesn’t want to be a part of the “Next Generation”? What are the alternatives?
Time travel or death?
To be fair, I have not taken the time to really delve into the comprehensive website that has been compiled to explain the need, rationale, and support for these standards. But if you have the time, it looks like a great, albeit expensive to produce, read.
Here’s the link: http://www.nextgenscience.org/
Just think of all of the money the Common Core Standards cost. All of the new textbooks, materials, training, curriculum mapping, lesson planning, and resources. Not to mention all of the people paid to develop the standards, materials, and curriculum.
But even better think of all of the money that was made. What better way to boost to our economy than completely revamping the math and ELA standards on a national level? Sure the rhetoric was lovely. Common Core would achieve lofty goals.
- Every student held to the same standard.
- All students would have an equal opportunity to quality education.
- Academic rigor would dominate.
- The tests would determine career and college readiness from grade 3.
- Data and resources could be shared across the country.
There is a whole Common Core website rich with resources, FAQ’s and explanations on a fabulously extensive website, one that was no doubt expensive to create.
Here is the link if you are interested in learning more: http://www.corestandards.org/
But the rhetoric failed to mention how incredibly profitable the whole endeavor was to companies like Pearson, who produced the majority of the new materials and tests. In fact, it was so profitable that they decided to tackle the science standards too!
It’s hard to compile how much the shift to Common Core cost the average school district. But as our local school district spent more money on curriculum, training, and materials and made more cuts to faculty, staff, and extra curriculars…I couldn’t help but wonder.
So many of the people in charge of making and approving school budgets have no clue what they are doing. They don’t read the new standards. They don’t think about the changes. They just act or trust that their superintendents know best. And that needs to stop.
Perhaps our school budgets wouldn’t be so strapped and so many teachers wouldn’t lose their jobs or stipends, if they would stymie the race to buy everything to keep up with the ever-changing, ever-shiny new standards.
The Next Generation Science Standards website makes me sick. I can see the waterfall of dollars beginning, even as the class time for science in elementary school is being reduced. The only good that may come of this is that the tide hemorrhaging of elementary science will take a turn for the better as science tests become more important in the upper grades.
But I can’t help but suggest that the way to improve science instruction and “rigor” is not expensive at all. And it doesn’t require new standards, curriculum, training, or a ton of new, expensive resources. Technology is not a requirement either.
I am even going to explain it without the help of a fancy,expensive website and staff of writers and researchers. Just me and my little cheap blog.
What if the Next Generation would be better off trying to look like the previous one?
Examining birds while waiting for a monarch tagging workshop.
Playing with perspective
At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City examining dinosaurs. How many field trips have been cut over the years?
Learning about how soap works by experimenting with milk and food coloring.
An oldie but goodie, making a water xylophone.
Experimenting with different types of food and the effect on the activity of yeast. After filling we put balloons on top to capture and help us measure the gas produced.
What goes up….
Play is work.
Before we left, he built a shelter out of shells to protect his favorite crab from the scavenging seagulls overhead.
Still wondering what animal this femur (?) came from.
A decomposing skate found in Cape May. We examined its partially detached jaw bone.
Learning to stop and take a deep breath to appreciate beauty.