For those who know me, I am a pretty big comic book nerd. I have been buying comics since I was 7 years old when my dad gave me his old collection of Batman, Superman, and Justice League comics. Identity Crisis, which was published by DC Comics a few years ago, is one of my favorite stories. This was not a traditional super hero story. It was a murder mystery. Someone had murdered the pregnant wife of one of the superheroes. This same criminal began threatening other family members as well and was even brave enough to go after Lois Lane, Superman’s girl! Throughout this story, Batman who is widely known as one of the world’s greatest detectives asked this one question. Who benefits? He used this one question to identify who was truly behind everything.
I apply this same question as I think about the changes that impact my teaching career. Who benefits? There is a push across the nation to replace the current Common Core standards with different state standards. Who is going to benefit from this shift?
Will teachers benefit from changing the standards? Most likely not. We have only been using the Common Core standards for a few years. Over this time, we had to learn what Common Core standards are. We collected resources and materials necessary to teaching them. We planned lessons, practiced lessons, and reflected on lessons. We monitored student learning and created methods to assess student achievement. This whole process took time and many of us may just be getting effective at using them. The art of teaching does not mean a teacher can teach any standard at any given time to a level of mastery to any student. It takes time to prepare, plan, and perfect. Switching standards now will erase all of our learning from these last few years. We will have to invest more time to learn a whole new set of standards and how to teach them and how to measure them. How are we expected to be masters of our craft when there are major changes occurring every few years? New standards won’t benefit us. We will need more time to learn new ones.
Will students benefit from changing the standards? If the teacher in front of the students is not effective at teaching the content, than students will most likely not benefit. An effective teacher must know the content they teach and be able to design lessons based on the needs of their students. If a teacher is learning a new content based on standards which have been adjusted then how can they expect a student to achieve mastery on the content? Students will not learn as much from a teacher who is a novice in a content area as a master teacher who has had time to practice and refine their craft. Student achievement will drop as teachers adapt to new standards and curriculum.
If students don’t benefit and teachers don’t benefit, then who does? Every new change in standards means there will be a new set of curriculum text books for districts to buy. There will be new resources teachers can use their money to purchase. There will be new tests created to measure student achievement. This is who benefits from new standards. Publishing companies benefit from new standards. They made a ton of money when common core was adopted and they rolled out all of their new products. After several years, most districts have acquired the necessary resources to teach the standards. Therefore, districts and schools aren’t buying as many products now. Thus, revenues for publishing companies are diminishing. How can they generate more revenues from schools? Ding Ding Ding. It’s time to change the standards again!
Over the years, there have been many changes or reforms to education. These changes benefit publishing companies, charter schools, or wealthy families at private schools. Even thought they are heralded as putting children first, they rarely benefit the children in public schools who desperately need it the most. Change is not necessarily a bad thing. Effective teachers are adept at adjusting and modifying instruction on the fly. However, changes made by a teacher are made to benefit the students. Before we adjust education and make drastic changes or reform, we need to be more like Batman and ponder this question. Who will benefit from this change? Who? If it is not teachers or students, is it worth it?