The Common Core Rollout: Lessons from New York

New York did not prepare its teachers well for its Common Core rollout and as a result suffered miserable results in terms of student growth. Other states – including my own state, Maine – should learn from New York’s mistakes. We are not as far along as New York in implementing the Common Core so we can benefit from lessons learned from them.

One point to be learned is that adding to the current load teachers carry in efforts to improve education will never work. Teachers are already overburdened. Their work is psychologically and intellectually tiring, and involves long hours, with work carried home to complete in evening hours and over weekends. There is a limit to what can be asked of teachers, especially since we then need them to work in good humor with young, vulnerable, complex students.  Anyone who has been a parent knows that spending time with even just one child is tiring. Imagine educating a roomful!  Teachers are only human. We cannot ask teachers to prepare for Common Core implementation on top of the job they are already doing.

If we want to prepare teachers to implement the Common Core properly they either need their current work load reduced so they can engage in ongoing professional development activities or they need substantial training during summer months. If states are not willing to fund this level of preparation then they should not adopt the Common Core.

Many educators have serious reservations about this new direction anyhow. Early childhood educators warn that we are stressing young children and depriving them of much important learning that comes from less directly academic work. In the short run we can get young children to post higher scores on reading and math assessments, but teachers note that these results come at the cost of cutting into time needed for more developmentally-appropriate aspects of an early childhood curriculum.Earlier is not better when it comes to academic learning.

Students benefit most from a developmentally-appropriate curriculum and fine teachers.  We won’t get fine teachers if we continue to make the profession so unappealing by heaping more and more onto the plates of teachers.


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Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.