So, let’s get down to core of Common Core: ‘Rigor’

I was fortunate to attend a forum at Sam’s Auditorium recently in which a panel of educators and organizers brought the discussion of the pros and cons of the Common Core National Standards. Common Core is here in Georgia, sanctioned by Governor Nathan Deal, which is now mandated to all public schools in this state.

What was interesting for me were the highly degreed individuals who are currently working in school administration today and of course who represented the pro Common Core side of the panel.

The forum included Georgia School Board Association representative Angela Palm, Kedron Elementary School Principal Julie Turner, Fayetteville Elementary School Principal Kim Herron, state School Superintendent John Barge, Concerned Women of America state director Tanya Ditty, American Principles Project Senior Fellow Jane Robbins and Cobb County Board of Education member Kathleen Angelucci.

All the big long words were flying around and lots of support expressed from educators around the country. The word that I personally didn’t know about was the word “rigor.”

Finally a question was asked of the panel to explain what rigor means. Here is an explanation of this hot buzz word: “Rigor is more than what you teach and what standards you cover; it’s how you teach and how students show you they understand. True rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).”

Okay, sounds reasonable for Fayette County Schools. Right? Let’s break it down.

· Create an environment that is conducive to growth

· Focus on exceptional expectations

· Supporting students so they can reach high expectations

· Provide a way for each student to demonstrate learning

Wait a minute; I thought that’s what teachers do already. Haven’t teachers, throughout history, encouraged students not to give up, encouraged them to learn, be positive while they’re taking baby steps in intellectual growth? Are not our students demonstrating their learning capabilities through the Georgia Performance Standards?

The teachers that educated my son here in Fayette County did a fantastic job. The teachers in K-12 created a learning environment, focused on exceptional expectations, and he was supported by teachers who filled in his gaps, and I can’t thank them enough. So what is all this hubbub about?

I put my researcher’s hat on and started listening, asking questions, went online and read. Now understanding the buzzword of rigor and the correlation to the Common Core National Standards, my mind is spinning.

My favorite online site is Stop Common I have joined the Concerned Citizens for Excellent Education (CCEE) right here in Fayetteville.

The panel didn’t explain enough for me, nor did my research. So, here are a few more questions. How will the Common Core National Standard really test rigor? How will the teachers provide rigor in the classrooms more than what they’ve done in these past years?

If indeed rigor is here now, what was the buzz word when “No Child Left Behind” took effect, or “Race to the Top”? Did they work? What is the curriculum that goes with rigor? When do parents get to see the actual curriculum; is it books or programs for computerized learning grades K-12? Are there manuals that teachers use 2012-2014 that parents can look at? Who really is writing the standards, and who is writing the curriculum?

For me, what it comes down to is that rigor is nothing more than a word. It’s the hot buzz word that educators are flailing around today to make this sound all just so wonderful and all for the child. A better educated child and more in line with the country.

I see nothing for or about the children in this documentation and determined that it’s all about government control, and money.

Rigor, statistics, common, standards, government, mandated, rigor, money, waivers, rigor, rigor ... stop, please; we must bring back parent and state sovereignty of deciding what is right for Georgia’s children and the education path to take.

My sweet Texan dad would say, “This is all hog wash!” I say, let’s put this whole issue on “pause,” Gov. Deal, until all of us know and understand much more about Common Core and rigor.

Cherie Werginz
B.A., Early Childhood Education
Fayetteville, Ga.

zincc's picture
Joined: 12/13/2007
Love all your statements

Love all your statements Renault! You are so totally right that those individuals making these policy decisions have no idea what it takes to be in the classroom. Keep up the good work.

renault314's picture
Joined: 07/03/2007
Zincc - thanks, its just my particular pet peeve.

Every year I go back to work looking forward to hanging out with some really cool kids and before they even get there my soul is crushed by the nonsense.

example: 3 years ago the geniuses in charge told us we had to label all of the questions on tests and quizzes with the reference number to the standard the question relates to. As if the kids are actually going to go look up the reference numbers. When I pointed that out, I was told by the curriculum coordinator for the county that it "wasn't for them, its for the teachers, to make sure we aren't asking questions that aren't in the standards."

Its stupid on its face, because we are encouraged to "teach across the curriculum" meaning if I am a science teacher I can also teach them a little math and a little history as it relates to the science subject I'm talking about. Like mentioning alchemy when teaching chemistry.

We are also encouraged to "teach beyond the curriculum" like when I go into a great deal about the accident at Chernobyl when discussing fusion and fission.

So they want me to teach extra stuff, just don't ask questions about it. Whatever dude.

It gets better. When the word came down to do this, some of the try-hards in the dept. dove right in and aligned all their old tests to the standards. Me and my friends just sorta rolled our eyes at each other and said "yeah, I'll be sure and get RIGHT on that." Funny thing was, the next year they changed the standards! the try-hards had to do it all over again, and now were are changing to the common core! 3rd time in 4 years! HAHAH! I love it! Y'know, except for how annoying and pointless it is.

And this sort of thing happens on a monthly basis. Every week I go to work I feel like theres just one more rule in place that makes it HARDER, not easier, HARDER for me to teach kids.

Husband and Fat...
Husband and Father of 2's picture
Joined: 07/23/2012
This happens in every industry

There is always a new buzz word, a new way of doing things, a new boss, new regulation, a new fad.. Some are good, some not so good. But we all give it the college try.

renault314's picture
Joined: 07/03/2007
common core- the next excuse

Having been a teacher in county for the last 7 years and a graduate of FCHS myself I can say without hesitation that it does not matter what you change the curriculum to. Kids with good, involved parents will most like succeed and those with crappy parents will most likely not. This is irrespective of race, gender, politics, socio-economic status or school zone. I'm sorry to say that even the teacher quality has less of an effect on things than people imagine.
The problem is that no politician who wants re-election is going to go out and tell voters that they are crappy parents. People in this day and age don't vote for people who speak the truth. They vote for people who tell them they are not to blame, its someone elses fault and the government will find out who is responsible and punish them for you.
No politician is going to say, "Hey, the kids that do well have parents who benefitted from education and would die before they let their kids fail out of school. And the kids with terrible grades probably have parents who dropped out, have minimum age jobs, need social assistance of some kind to feed their kids and don't stress education to their children." because if they said that they would immediately be branded racist.

So they have to pretend its "lack of teacher training" or "absence of common core" or whatever this weeks nonsense is. I cant tell you how many hoops I have to jump through during the week that have nothing to do with getting a kid to understand science. We can complain all we want but there is an entire generation of lost children who's parents live and die in poverty and cant think to tell their kids theres a better way.

Here is the new curriculum, same as the old curriculum.
Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.
Fayetteville, Ga

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
renault: Couldn't agree with you more

Well stated!

hutch866's picture
Joined: 12/28/2005

You are 100% right, if the parents don't care, the kid doesn't care. End of story.

renault314's picture
Joined: 07/03/2007
I just don't understand where this on size fits all approach

comes from. Recently, its been the "everyone needs to go to college" mantra. What a load. I have a masters degree and am a licensed professional in my field, and I know plumbers who make twice as much as I do. My parents were bookkeepers and aircraft mechanics and they made enough to keep my brother and I in nice clothes, in a nice subdivision off Redwine Rd. and take us to Disney world every year. That place never gets old!
Anyway, this everyone needs to go to college junk is why we have special needs kids that need to take pre-calculus and physics to get a high school diploma. Really? At the high school I teach at we have a great auto shop program, but the kids that like to do that stuff are sorta sneered at by a lot of the other kids. Sorry, but between a kid who can breakdown a transmission and a kid who can breakdown the symbolism in "A Tale of Two Cities" I know which one I'd bet on to earn the most money and be in the least student loan debt 10 years after high school.

Ideally you want a kid who can do both, which I guess is where the one size fits all mentality comes from. But in reality, if a kid shows no interest in wanting to learn how to change a distributor cap because they know they don't want to do that with their life, everyone thinks that is reasonable. But if that same kid said, hey, I don't think I need to take calculus, because I want to be a welder and I wont need that, people freak out and lose their minds. But the thing is, being an expert at welding pays waaaay more than being an expert at calculus. (trust me, I know)

I guess my biggest gripe is that the teachers are never consulted for these changes. The politicians, completely unqualified in every way, decide what the teachers will do. they teachers try their best, but when it inevitably fails, teachers will get the blame. We will get a raft of articles calling for better teacher training, and better qualifications testing and "tying bonuses to performance on tests" ( oh thats a genius idea right there) and then the politicians will do something else without consulting us. All the while, the only thing you need to do to predict a kids success is talk to the parents.

Thats why charter schools always appear to be so successful. Only the kids with parents who give a crap are going to bother putting their kid in the charter school in the first place. Nothing to to with "innovative methods" or any nonsense like that. Its easy to claim higher scores when you skim the cream off the top and put them in one spot, but those kids were always going to do well, because of the parents.

wildcat's picture
Joined: 04/12/2006
one size fits all

My guess is that this (one diploma for all) came about as a response to the lawsuits counties were facing when we had choices. Over the past 20 years there have been some that have made the headlines, but I suspect that there are many more that didn't. The ones that I remember were the cases where the parents claimed their child was "kept down." Suing school systems seems to be a good money-maker as the school systems usually settle. So, tracking/two diplomas/ect went away. Unfortunately the one size for all puts the below average IQ kids and especially, the MID kids, at a disadvantage. With two options (and the GHSGT) they had a better shot at earning a diploma and becoming a productive member of society at whatever level they were capable. They also had the opportunity to attend college. It was never "off the plate" with a vo-tech diploma. Some will say that we lowered our standards when we issued those diplomas but I disagree. My heart (and help) has always gone to the underdog. Many of them struggled for their vo-tech diploma and there was a lot of praying over, and retaking of, the GHSGTs. It was an uphill battle for four (and sometimes, five) years but when they walked at the end the look on their face was so worth it. Now with the new math and the EOCTs it is that much harder. Some are defeated in 9th grade; you can see it in their faces. But with one size fits all there can't be anymore lawsuits of this nature.

NUK_1's picture
Joined: 12/17/2007
renault: You are on a roll today!

Agree again 100%. The whole "go to college or cease to exist in the marketplace" has been an abject failure on many levels. First, that's not the reality. Second, you turn out a lot of college graduates who have no idea whatsoever about what they want to do as a career but went to college because they were told that was the only chance they had of having a decent living and then find the "best option" to be go back to more advanced degrees. UGH.

The one size fits all mentality has failed every bit as much as the "everyone needs to own a house" philosophy in America.

Looking on the services I have received from companies in the past year, I can't recall asking the guy who installed my new water heater if he had a college degree or not or if the plumber who came to fix a busted line going into my backyard what his highest level of education happened to be. When I had an electrician out for re-wiring, I didn't need to see whether he went to MIT or not. There will ALWAYS be a demand for skilled work and it pays. You cannot out-source getting your septic tank pumped to a call center in India.

renault314's picture
Joined: 07/03/2007
Nuk - I think it is also responsible

for a lot of the student loan crisis. Being in debt isn't a bad thing if you can pay it back. but there are a ton of people out there who are $50K in debt and have philosophy degrees and whatnot. Apparently the people who told them they had to go to college to be somebody should have explained that not all degrees are equal. Now its the taxpayers job to bail them out because they thought a degree in 18th cent french poetry was worth 40k a year at Northwestern? I dont think so.

S. Lindsey
S. Lindsey's picture
Joined: 12/31/2008
You are right to be skeptical..Ms. Werginz

Common Core is another boondoggle brought to us by Government to have every child to conform to one curriculum. You know get them all THINKING the same way and to be able to identify those that just won't or can't get with the program..

Another Common Educational program comes to mind when I read the "Core" goals..

"The life of a German child changed dramatically during the 1920’s and 30’s, especially for those who were to no longer be regarded as German (but that’s a whole different topic). They were forcefully united under the swastika by the Nazi’s, they were brainwashed into complete loyalty to the Nazi’s through what they were taught by the schools and the Nazi’s education system. The system was extremely effective and managed to gain the complete loyalty and support of the German youth by the 1930’s as anyone who didn’t was dealt with severely."