“Let’s not reinvent the wheel.”
I used to hear this a lot when I worked in the business world. Yes, absolutely we would all think… that’s been done already. Let’s not duplicate the work that someone has already done.
I often wondered why we didn’t say this more in education. Every state had their own standards and their own tests: there was an incredible amount of duplicated energy. Even district assessments varied from neighboring town to town.
Then we got the Common Core and I thought “Finally!” we’re going to do the work once, and it will be done well, and we will share it. I really didn’t think it would matter if the standards were more rigidly fixed than the previous state standards, because the energy we would all save seemed worth it.
Then we got (or will get) the tests. These have been created without district or state oversight. No parents, no teachers, no principals, or district superintendents will be able to easily modify these tests. No superintendent of public instruction for a given state will be able to easily modify much of anything about the tests – and that’s an optimistic appraisal.
So now I’m starting to wonder about that wheel.
Maybe we do need to recreate the wheel. In the end, at least then we have our own wheel. Ownership matters. All of the sudden we realize we’re riding in the backseat of the car. I wasn’t expecting this when Common Core arrived.
What if we all started with Common Core – what if we adopted Common Core – but then we raised it as our own baby? Each state could make changes, and though they would be weighty decisions they would be possible. Or maybe we could share custody with all of the other states. Perhaps state superintendents could meet every couple of years to propose and then decide on changes.
The assessment piece is even more problematic. Though we might all strive for the same goals, judgment of success is subjective and complex. Coming from the American roots of local control over local schools it just seems like a great distance to have traveled. I think we’re going to need a set of wheels to get that back.