For several years now, concern has been building about the impact of Common Core on our youngest learners. As I’ve written before, in 2010 more than 500 early childhood education professionals signed a joint statement opposing the K-3 standards. Among those signing the statement were three past presidents of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, including Dr. David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child), Ellin Galinsky, and Lilian Katz.
Now that Common Core is in place in schools, how are kids faring? A recent article in The New York Daily News addresses problems with Pearson’s ReadyGEN curriculum, which one kindergarten teacher in Brooklyn called “a setup for failure.” The Daily News asked adults to complete the vocabulary exercise, targeted for kindergartners. Some were “totally stumped.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Are you smarter than a kindergartner?
Adults asked by the Daily News to complete a new vocabulary exercise offered to 4- and 5-year-olds as part of the city’s new Common Core curriculum weren’t so sure.
The curriculum, which is optional, aims to teach kindergartners higher-order thinking skills, and tasks them with drawing pictures of vocabulary words. The News chose the words “distance” and “responsibility” and told those who’ve long since finished grade school to put their thinking caps on.
“I’m glad I skipped kindergarten!” said Brian Schwartz, who graduated from Oxford University at 18 and is a member of the Omega Society, which professes to accept only the brightest of the bright. Schwartz drew an infinite road for “distance,” and declined to share his representation of responsibility, calling it “a total failure.”
…Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott, a former kindergarten teacher, declined to take the kindergarten challenge.
What have others said about Common Core and kindergarten? In 2010 Dr. Carla Horwitz of the Yale Child Study Center detailed her concerns that Common Core will likely create dual challenges for students and teachers — pushing kids too hard, and driving teachers from the classroom. An excerpt:
Kindergartens in my community and many others are already far from developmentally appropriate…Lessons are delivered by teachers who are themselves under the gun. If their principal finds the children “playing”—that is, engaged in dramatic play, experiences with sand, water, or blocks—the teachers are severely reprimanded. Even those who have been teaching for many years and understand the developmental needs of five-year-olds are threatened. They are leaving the profession because they can no longer do what they know will ensure learning and growth in the broadest, deepest way.
And in the hands of inexperienced teachers these national standards pose even more danger as inappropriate skills teaching will be combined with inappropriate content. Thus, our nation’s children are in double jeopardy—their curriculum is being stripped of all connection to the way they learn and grow, and their schools will be bereft of the very teachers who can help translate curriculum into meaning and learning.