Here’s What Common Core Does to Our Schools


Conservatives used to like the new Common Core education standards. Then Obama got elected and they changed their minds. It’s lately become something like Agenda 21 or Benghazi: an offense against liberty and decency that’s a reliable crowd pleaser for Republicans even if the crowd doesn’t really know what Common Core is. But it doesn’t matter. It’s somehow part of a shadowy Obama takeover of our schools, and that’s enough.

But if you want to know what Common Core really does to our schools, California is here to help you understand:

Echoing a nationwide downward trend, most California students are falling short of state learning targets and are not on track to succeed in college, according to the results of new, more rigorous standardized tests released Wednesday.

….Questions based on the new “Common Core” standards, which have been adopted in 42 states, are more difficult than those on California’s previous test….Students are given questions that require deeper thinking about a theme in literature, for example, or about the concepts of algebra or geometry. They get more or less difficult based on which ones a student answers correctly, and in theory no two students will be presented with exactly the same test.

One of the favorite tricks of state education departments is to subtly manipulate their tests so that their schools look better than they are. It’s an especially popular ruse in red states, and one that Common Core makes harder to pull off. Does this have anything to do with the oddly convenient conservative backlash against Common Core? Maybe, but that would be an awfully cynical suggestion, wouldn’t it? For now, it’s probably best to stick with reliable old Obama Derangement Syndrome instead. It’s usually sufficient.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.