The controversial “Common Core” standards that were recently introduced and have been adopted by 45 states have been slammed by a leading child psychologist as “inappropriate.” Dr. Megan Koschnick gave a speech at a meeting on September 9th called “The Changing Role of Education in America: Consequences of the Common Core.” During her speech, she said the new standards were age inappropriate and that they could cause children undue stress because the program expects them to function at a level much higher than to what they are accustomed. She went on to say that the new program is not advisable, explaining:
Why do we care if [Common Core standards] are age inappropriate? Well, you can answer that with one word – stress. Instead of thinking about what’s developmentally appropriate for kindergarteners, they are thinking [college] is where we want this kindergartener to end up, so let’s back track down to kindergarten and have kindergarteners work on these skills from an early age. This can cause major stress for the child because they are not prepared for this level of education.
The Common Core has caused an enormous uproar among parents and fierce, heated debate between educators. Parents say that no professionals were consulted when the rules were being developed and that no experts were involved in the decision making.
Dr. Koschnick said that children who have been exposed to a developmentally inappropriate classroom, such as what the Common Core standards represent, show signs of extreme anxiety such as nail biting, twitching, shaking, hair-twirling and even physical aches and pains, and that “kids brains are not the same as adult’s brains.”
Joy Pullman of the Heartland Institute agrees. She says Dr. Koschnick has correctly assessed the Common Core. “Dr. Koschnick’s analysis makes it clear what other early childhood professionals have said: Common Core asks small children to behave like little adults, and they are not little adults. Anyone who cares for a small child could tell you this. This is a further consequence of the Common Core lead writers’ lack of experience and professional reputation, and of its committees excluding experts in early childhood,” she said.
Criticisms about the Common Core from the public include the allegation that it removes states’ control over education and strips them of their right to set standards in their communities, that it lowers standards for math and reading, and that special needs students will be expected to adhere to the same set of standards as non-special needs children.
Education Diane Ravitch implies that she disagrees with implementation of the Common Core the way it stands now. On her blog, she writes “The architects of the Common Core standards wanted to rush them into implementation, and Arne Duncan used the federal government’s billions to coerce states to “voluntarily” adopt the standards, if necessary, sight unseen. Now they are paying the price of their haste…I am not happy with the way that Common Core was developed. Very few people were involved in this effort to develop national standards.”
Ravitch’s opinion seems to echo the sentiment of many parents, who are outraged over the implementation of the Common Core standards after what they claim is no review by educational experts.
Supporters of the Common Core say it will teach critical thinking skills, which are severely lacking in today’s educational arena. Parent and New York Times columnist Charles Blow says the Common Core will be beneficial if properly implemented. “We have drifted away from the fundamentals of what makes a great teacher,” he writes, “the ability to light a fire in a child, to develop in him or her a level of intellectual curiosity, the grit to persevere and the capacity to expand. Great teachers help to activate a small thing that breeds great minds: thirst. The Common Core is meant to help bolster those forms of learning and teaching. The Common Core is for the common good, if only we can get our act together and properly implement it.”
Other supporters of the Common Core plan say it will better prepare students for higher education and for the work force after they graduate. They say federal standards implemented across the nation will allow for state-by-state comparisons to address weaknesses and identify problem areas so that those areas can be strengthened.
Still, a quick web search makes it clear it is easier to find people who do not support the Common Core than those who do, suggesting that public sentiment is running toward a lot of backlash. Online commentary seems to be trending toward websites set up against the plan and some commenters have pointed out that both sides of the political spectrum have reason to dislike the new standards.
Now, a child psychologist has come out and slammed the Common Core directly. What will the pushback mean for the future of the program?
By: Rebecca Savastio