Common Core is common sense

As a member of Business Leaders for Michigan, I support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and urge the Michigan Legislature to swiftly move forward with their implementation. In Michigan today, only 68% of third graders are reading proficiently; only 20% of high school graduates are considered career- and college-ready; and 21% of high school graduates are enrolled in a remedial math course at a community college or 4-year university.  This is not acceptable if we truly want our children to succeed. The simple truth is that in order for Michigan to compete in a knowledge-based, global economy, we must improve the academic performance of our students.

The Common Core standards are designed to do just that. The standards are not, as some have expressed, a curriculum – all decisions about what materials to use or how to teach are still made at the local level. In other words, the Common Core does not tell kids what to read – only that kids should be able to read. Instead, the Common Core sets consistent academic expectations for all Michigan students in math and English. These standards are grounded in evidence, internationally benchmarked, and prepare students for college and careers.

And yes, the Common Core are tougher than what we have now. The Common Core sets high but much needed expectations for achievement if we truly want to give our children the best footing possible whether they are career or college bound.  Consider this:  a recent Business Leaders of Michigan survey of small, medium, and large businesses showed that 54 percent of small and medium businesses and 56 percent of large businesses found that applicants do not possess the skills necessary to meet job requirements.  And according to the Lumina Foundation, in 2025, 60 percent of the jobs we will need to fill in Michigan will require at least an Associate’s degree. We must set higher standards to ensure that Michigan’s kids have the opportunity to be the future entrepreneurs, innovators, and talent that drive Michigan’s economy.

Over the last two years, our state leaders have taken many positive steps. They changed our tax structure so that Michigan’s business tax climate is now among the best in the nation. They adopted balanced budgets on time without gimmicks, paid down our debt, and eliminated the deficit. The results are positive, unemployment has fallen and our GDP and personal incomes are up.

None of this was easy. But our leaders put Michigan’s interest before political expediency. It’s time to once again do what is right. We must continue with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards to ensure that all Michigan kids have the academic knowledge and skills to succeed after high school.  This will help ensure that our children are getting an education that will open doors, expand their options and prepare them for a bright future in Michigan.

J. Donald Sheets is executive vice president, CFO, and regional president – North America for Dow Corning Corporation. He also serves a member of Business Leaders for Michigan.

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Mon, 08/05/2013 - 4:51pm
Mr. Sheets, All parents, teachers, and business leaders want children to succeed. But I believe the Common Core is NOT the avenue to success that many promise. As a business leader you know that before any decision a cost benefit analysis should be done to make sure that the decision is sound. This was NOT done for the Common Core. In fact, the standards were released on June 2, 2010 and MIchigan Department of Education adopted them on June 15, 2010. Why the rush. More importantly, the Michigan Constitution requires fhe following of the State Board of Education... ----------- § 3 State board of education; duties. Sec. 3. Leadership and general supervision over all public education, including adult education and instructional programs in state institutions, except as to institutions of higher education granting baccalaureate degrees, is vested in a state board of education. It shall serve as the general planning and coordinating body for all public education, including higher education, and shall advise the legislature as to the financial requirements in connection therewith. ------------------ I have asked several members of the legislature if this has been and they all say that they did not receive anything from the MDE the State School Board prior to the adoption of Common Core. If we are going to ask our children to adhere to a standard shouldn't the MDE and the School Board adhere to the standard set out in the Michigan Constitution? You also said, "The standards are not, as some have expressed, a curriculum – all decisions about what materials to use or how to teach are still made at the local level" And you care correct that the Common Core is not a curriculum. It is only math and ELA standards. Science and History ad not part of this standard. Were they ignored or forgotten by the writers of Common Core? Not at all but the proponents new that the best way to impose an major shift is to do it incrementally. So they chose math and science first and will later add in science and history. And they will also add in curriculum. Yes, despite what you have been told curriculum WILL be phased in over time? How do I know you may ask? President of Achieve, Mike Cohen said in a press briefing last year that Achieve "is “already working with three states–NY, RI, and MA to that have “won Race for the Top funds” and were allocating a portion of that to develop model curriculum and instructional materials aligned to the Common Core.” “Model curriculum” that will like become a “common curricula” for states to “decide” to adopt. Quoting rom the State of Michigan FAQ on Common Core which also admits that "common curriculum" will be considered in the future, 11. Q: Do the CCSS represent national standards? Will they lead to a national curriculum and common national assessment? A: The Common Core State Standards Initiative is being led by states, not by the U.S. Department of Education. The CCSS will allow for development of common assessments that may be adopted by states. Such common assessments may provide opportunities for evaluation of progress toward college and career readiness. Decisions about development and adoption of common curricula and assessments will continue to be left to state boards of education. Some states may decide to participate in the development and adoption of a common curriculum (definitions that go beyond standards and include units of instruction or required activities, problems, or readings). The CCSSI has developed standards which will be adopted by states and used as the framework for developing state-level curricula and assessments. Participation in the CCSSI does not require that states adopt a common curriculum or that they participate in one common assessment. I’m sure Arne Duncan and Achieve will be right their helping the states “find” a reason to participate and adopt them just like they did with the Common Core State Standards and the related assessments. Mr. Sheets the Commmon Core is more than just high standards it is high stakes reform that may lead to better workers for your company but leaves local school districts and parents with no control over their child's education. In fact, the Common Core standards are privately owned and copyrighted by the National Governors Association and hte Chief Counsel of State School Officers. States cannot modify them because they don't own them. Amazing that PUBLIC school standards are now privately owned by a DC lobby group. How is that good for anyone? You are a obviously a smart man, Mr. Sheets. You wouldn't have gotten to where you were without wise counsel and listening to multiple sides of the story. I encourage you to contact me and let's talk about the other side of Common Core. The side, Governor Snyder and other proponents usually leave out. You can reach me at Karen
Mon, 08/05/2013 - 11:13pm
Mr. Sheets, Even if Common Core standards were wonderful, and even if the curriculum being developed to align with them was completely nonpartisan, I still wouldn't approve. As it stands, the curriculum being developed for them is full of indoctrination and politically biased reading materials. The math standards are so remedial that the only math expert on the official validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, withdrew his support. These reasons aren't even my biggest concern over Common Core, though. My strongest objections have to do with my child being tracked in a database by inBloom. I know that inBloom is promising that my child's information is secure and won't be passed off to third parties, but if we as parents allow this one step, then where will it end? Freedom and privacy are lost one poor decision at a time. I don't care about the millions of dollars "wasted" on these standards. I will fight this unproven Common Core experiment until it is completely out of my child's classroom. My child is a human with infinite potential, not a lab rat for the U.S. Department of Education and later on, for the U.S. Department of Labor.
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 10:14am
Yes, the Common Core will affect public, private, charter, and homeschool students. If this was truly about "what worked" they would be looking at various methods for education not a "common" one-size-fits all standard that forces every child into their mold for a job in the global economy.. Education has now become about creating workers to fulfill the economic demands of the state not about educating children to fulfill their dreams in society.. Again looking at the Michigan Constitution as our standard, we read about the purpose of education. Sec. 1. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The common core goal of college and career readiness for workforce development may suit the needs of Mr. Sheets but the goal is too low for Michigan or any state. The goal of public education should be to foster the love of learning for good citizenship and the betterment of mankind not learning how to make a living for a better workforce in the 21st Century.
Victoria Rosich
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 7:43am
Thank you, Ms Braun. Just found out our high-producing charter school is implementing Common Core now. Why are we changing schools that work instead of using them as models for those that don't? This is asinine.
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 10:13am
Yes, the Common Core will affect public, private, charter, and homeschool students. If this was truly about "what worked" they would be looking at various methods for education not a "common" one-size-fits all standard that forces every child into their mold for a job in the global economy.. Education has now become about creating workers to fulfill the economic demands of the state not about educating children to fulfill their dreams in society.. Again looking at the Michigan Constitution as our standard, we read about the purpose of education. Sec. 1. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The common core goal of college and career readiness for workforce development may suit the needs of Mr. Sheets but the goal is too low for Michigan or any state. The goal of public education should be to foster the love of learning for good citizenship and the betterment of mankind not learning how to make a living for a better workforce in the 21st Century.
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 8:51am
Let's change the perspective; The American public education has been in a steadily and accelerating downward spiral for at least 50 yrs. The architects of this demise are the very same developers of the Common Core. Recent examples of this slippery slope are Goals 2000, Outcome Based Education, No Child Left Behind... All were NEW and BETTER and cost more and more money and fewer and fewer of our children graduated, know how to read, how to think, reason and problem solve, AND more and more are willing accept government dependence. NOW the new and improved education system is the Common Core. REALLY!!?? Do we REALLY want to give these people ANOTHER bite at the apple? Do we really trust that this TOTAL control of the education system is going to improve the education system? Instead of buying another repackaged pile of fertilizer why don't we use what has been refined over 2500 years of Western Civilization. Look to a Classical Liberal Arts Education. This is the education that the founders of this country, almost to a man, received. If you want a model for success let's look back to that which has been proven... the education system helped to train up founders of the greatest country the earth has ever seen.
Ron lemke
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 9:13am
Quit chipping away at the Voc. C.T.E programs in our high schools. Every student does not need Foreign Languages , Chemistry or Physics, four years of math. This is truly a societal issue, and a K 12 issue. Monitor more closely the charter schools. Keep beating up on teachers and see what you attract to the profession.
Ron Lemke
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 9:19am
Keep chipping away at Voc. C.T.E. classes in high school. Every student does not need a foreign language, chemistry or physics, four years of math, etc. This is a societal issue and a K 12 issue. Keep a closer tab on the Charter schools and quit beating up on educators. Then you wonder who you attract going into education as a career.
Pasquale J Battaglia
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 9:38am
Mr. Lemke, not every child is college bound nor should the student who finds fulfillment with working with their hands be disparaged or left behind. Consider this. I am a well trained cement mason, I come from a family cement masons. I am now a developer of classical charter schools. If I am looking to hire a plumber and I have the choice of hiring a person who is well read and who can articulate themselves or a person who just knows the task of plumbing... I'll take the well educated person every time. Why, because they can think and reason and problem solve, They are also better at communicating with their fellow tradesmen who are all over each other on an intense project. Sir, I am suggesting that we set the bar high and keep it high. Where ever the student let's help them reach that bar. Once they have those mental tools they will have ANY opportunity available to them. I am also a very big advocate of apprentice programs. There is a very distressing shortage of good craftsmen in America. Encourage companies to use our students for school credits it benefits both company a kid and lifts up the community.
C. Ruley
Tue, 08/06/2013 - 1:02pm
Like Bill Gates, Mr. Sheets is apparently an elitist who has no problem using his perceived power and influence to subject our children to any social experiment he sees fit to shape them into what is best for the state and its corporate interests. Common Core is not about educating and fostering individuals with good character. It's about testing and indoctrinating to fit the slots of a socialist collective.
Laurie Burke
Wed, 08/07/2013 - 11:10am
It is appalling to me that any good citizen of the greatest country in the world would advocate the Common Core educational system as a pathway for current or future generations of our great nation. My understanding is that the overall curriculum holds students to LOWER standards. In essence, it promotes the "dumbing down" of our students. It encourages them to aspire to mediocrity! Since when does the greatest nation of the world tell its students not to reach for the impossible? Rather than encouraging student to develop critical thinking skills, CC tells students what to think. You can learn more about some "recommended" reading materials of CC by viewing this video: I was particularly disturbed while watching this video when it revealed that some of the reading material was created by an organization with communist ties. This is the United States of America and we do NOT want communism here! The other materials were clearly propaganda designed, as I said to tell students what to think, rather than think for themselves. In addition, I am also deeply concerned about Common Core and its ties to Islam. It is no secret that our current president is all for using the appeasement strategy to try to "make nice" with Islam. In other words, there is a slow, insidious movement inside our country to brainwash and groom people to accept and even embrace Islam. You can learn more about CC and its ties to Islam in this video: Lastly, if you really want to become informed and weep at the quiet infiltration into the educational system of this country, view this EXCELLENT video which shows how education in America is being used as a tool by those who seek to destroy us from within: Those that created and/or promote the Common Core system should be deeply ashamed of themselves for selling out this country... And I haven't even touched on the privacy issues regarding this system. LOTS of personal and private data is collected about every student and their family members. Do some research, educate yourself as to how personally invasive the system really is.,,
Thu, 08/08/2013 - 11:56pm
It's actually a meaningful intellectual challenge to determine where there is more baloney and disinformation: in the original article touting the CCSSI, or in some of the wing-nut comments attacking the Common Core for a lot of utterly unfounded reasons. And I say that as someone who has been vehemently opposed the the very idea of national standards, curricula, or testing from the beginning of this entire benighted enterprise. Here's the simple reality of why we should oppose the Common Core or any proposed replacement for it: 1) it's not a "socialist" plot to 'dumb down' anyone. Indeed, it's quite the antithesis of socialism, communism, or anything truly left of center. In fact it's a creation of neo-conservatives and neo-liberals united towards one simple goal: making a ton of money. Towards that end, they have planned for decades to undermine public confidence in one of our finest democratic institutions: public education. Not that our schools couldn't use some major overhauls, but it's not because a typical US school isn't able to compete with comparable schools in other nations. Part of the education deform movement is grounded in NOT comparing apples to apples, then claiming that what is true of our neediest, most impoverished community schools is typical of the entire public education system. When that wasn't moving things along quickly enough, they pushed more and more high-stakes standardized tests on everyone, ruining any sort of reasonable curriculum in high-performing, effective schools, and making people in the most economically deprived schools have to either cheat or get fired or watch their school be "cancelled," as we saw in spades in Chicago this June. This entire thing is racketeering. It's disaster capitalism with a vengeance. And because our media are no longer comprised of courageous, independent, investigative journalists in the tradition of Edward R. Murrow, we have virtually no one in print or on the air pointing out what's going on. We then get a federal initiative wolf badly hidden in the sheep's clothing of "state" policies, where any state that doesn't knuckle under loses any shot at the federal education money to which it should be constitutionally entitled. That's a shoddy ploy to allow the proponents of the Common Core to claim that this isn't a violation of the laws surrounding the creation of a US Dept. of Education. How utterly gullible do they think we are? But when we have conservative wing-nuts screaming about socialism, Obamacare (I'm not making that up: saw it today on a blog out of Georgia by a former public school teacher, no less!), dumbing down, and the 1990s Math Wars rhetoric of R. James Milgram (who has been fighting the same boring battle against any and all innovation in math education for at least the past 25 years), it becomes trivially easy for the corporate spokespeople for the testing companies, publishers, investment bankers, hedge-fund managers, and billionaires like Bill Gates and many others to dismiss ALL critics of the Common Core as out-of-touch conservative extremists. The fact is that any progressive educator or true liberal should oppose the very idea of a "common core." It is an assault on autonomy, creativity, flexibility, and all the research on child development that has emerged in the past century or more. It is an attempt at a one-size-fits-all NON-solution to a problem that doesn't really exist (or at least not in the ways the standardistas claim). And of course, it is INTENDED to fail: the whole point is to have juiced up tests that will make even good schools and students look ineffective and stupid. Then, the "saviors" get to come in and run their scams for a decade, and when those don't work, they can destroy more public schools (if there are any left), buy complete control of "public" education, and then sell more tests, more books, more professional development, more panaceas, more miracles. Charter schools and vouchers are just part of the assault. When these folks are done, they'll own every teacher and student in the country. And it won't be a "socialist" plot. It will be simple greed, ruthlessness, and taking advantage of the amazing ignorance of the average American when it comes to politics where it counts: behind the scenes with the money boys. Morons will yell about Obama, not realizing that he's no different from his predecessors or likely successors when it comes to education. Oh, and one last thing: "making nice" to Muslims is not the same as condoning or allowing terrorism at home or abroad. If some of the idiots who write comments along those lines actually knew any American Muslims and could get their heads out of their rear ends, they might realize that the average Muslim is after the same basic things most people are in this country. Stop letting your ignorant hate blind you to your real enemies. They wear suits and ties, and they buy and sell you every day.
jean kozek
Fri, 08/09/2013 - 9:22am
For decades the statistics have remained relatively the same: income is a major factor in predicting how well prepared a child is for school and how well a student will perform in school. Children from wealthy families usually perform at the higher levels. Middle income family children perform well. But children of the poor typically perform poorly. These statistics apply to all industrialized countries, not just America. Test standards can be raised. Expectations can be raised. What is considered a passing score can be raised. But, raising the bar won't change predictable outcomes. Wealthy families tend to send their children to private schools. They pay $30,000. plus per child to attend small classes (maybe 18 children per teacher) and enjoy a variety of curriculum choices from language arts to music to art to dance, etc. during the day. If their child has a weakness in a given area, the parents will probably hire a tutor. Middle income parents usually send their children to local public schools. As a group these parents usually support maintaining their school quality by raising their own taxes. They want smaller classes although the class size might be 30+ children. They want the arts, the music classes, forensic classes, drama classes, etc. They tend to monitor their children's attendance and completion of class and home work. Children from poor families may have few educated adults around them. Their parents may work one or two jobs. They have no extra money to pay for professional child care. Maybe the family speaks English as a second language. These same parents are less able to monitor their child's progress at school because of work demands. Yet, these children are usually the ones that receive the least support while in public schools. Often schools in such neighborhoods receive much fewer tax dollars than do those in middle and high income areas. Hence, such children end up in classes of 40 or 50 students in the early grades. In such situations they receive little if any individual attention since a teacher has no such time or opportunity to attend to those needs. Whether No Child Left Behind or Common Core or any such other standard is set, it won't affect the outcomes for these children. In Michigan the budget for public education has been cut by over $1 billion a year. Many public schools have increased class sizes, eliminated all but basic programs, media specialists, etc. This cut in funding has led to more schools fearful of deficit spending which could lead to their closure. A large loss of funding may become another predictor of more students doing poorly in school because the schools of middle income families will also be unable to meet their children's needs to succeed at a more demanding curriculum. Common Core addresses none of the issues that affects a child's probability of success in school. It has taken the focus away from what does relate to the expectation of an individua child's probability of success and what needs to be done to improve his/her chances to succeed.
so close
Mon, 09/09/2013 - 9:02pm
You are close with you comment, but you miss the why. There is a great divide between rich and poor, but it lies within the character, not the bank account. Many rich pay attention to detail, work hard, and invest in future success. This is translated into their children as you identified. However, they invest much more by transferring their character, instilling hope and confidence, and pushing their children toward success. Conversely, many poor are despondent, lazy, and accuse others of limiting them. Yet, we revel in the over comers. We love the stories of those whose character drives them beyond expectations. No curriculum will create the success we lack. Parent involvement combined with societies rejection of the mediocre is the only remedy. Review successful education systems and you will find demanding outcomes, high involvement, normal budgets, and classical education. What has broken the US education system is the moral depravity of our society. People of character go beyond, reach above, and celebrate success