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OUR OPINION: Common Core, uncommon rancor

Confused about Common Core? Step into the echo chamber, and try hard not to be torn one way or another. The "echo chamber" is the term used recently by Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United - the state's union of 10,000 public-sector w...

Our Opinion
Our Opinion

Confused about Common Core? Step into the echo chamber, and try hard not to be torn one way or another.

The "echo chamber" is the term used recently by Nick Archuleta, president of North Dakota United - the state's union of 10,000 public-sector workers, including teachers. Archuleta discussed Common Core with the editorial board of the Herald recently, and told us that he's frustrated by the lack of "logical conversation" about the new educational standards.

For review, the Common Core standards establish guidelines for what all students should know about math and English language arts through each milestone in their educational career. The standards were drafted by experts - including teachers - from across America.

Common Core values critical thinking and problem solving and other analytical skills that today's students will need to do well in tomorrow's working world.

Almost all states have adopted Common Core standards.

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We like Common Core because it puts much emphasis on English, of which we are particularly fond; and math, of which we do not like much at all but understand the importance of nonetheless.

We also like Common Core because, to us, it creates guidelines for great teaching. Our opinion is that good and great teachers will excel via Common Core, while the system may well root out lazy or unproductive school employees.

Archuleta said he has heard great things about Common Core by many teachers, and that teachers in Bismarck told him "they'd never go back" to pre-Common Core curriculums.

Here in North Dakota, Common Core has been backed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, as well as both of our U.S. senators and the state superintendent of public instruction.

But alas, Common Core is accompanied by great controversy. Some opponents attach a certain partisanship to it; others say it erodes the principle of local control, or that Common Core has too many standards.

That's where Archuleta's theory of the "echo chamber" comes into play. He thinks much of the controversy is spurred by blind partisanship and, in part, by social media. We don't disagree.

As Archuleta put it: "It's important to cut through the noise and general confusion" and "have a logical conversation."

Common Core certainly comes with its share of confusion, but we generally like it. We especially like the debate that comes with it, and we would never seek to stymie the vigorous give-and-take that this subject incites.

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But we prefer logic over partisan noise and social-media confusion.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Opinion by Korrie Wenzel
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.


As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.



Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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