Arthur Camins has written an insightful critique of the current debate over standards. As he puts it, “the past gets in our eyes.”

Camins begins:

“The Common Core State Standards for Reading and Mathematics appear to be simultaneouslyunstoppable trains and under siege, making strange bedfellows of both supporters and opponents.

Two issues cloud the debate about their validity, value and efficacy: (1) The idea of standards
has been conflated with standardization; (2) Standards have become inextricably linked to highstakes assessments. This has superseded a deeper meaning of assessment- the daily cycle of
diagnosis and feedback to students that marks the practice of every effective teacher.
However, there is something deeper contributing the cloudiness. I am reminded of a classic
Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy laments upon missing a fly ball, “Sorry I missed that easy fly ball,
manager. I thought I had it, but suddenly I remembered all the others I’ve missed. The past got in
my eyes!”

Camins notes a strange paradox: The supporters of “reform” says that the best schools (i.e., charters and vouchers) have autonomy, while the opponents of the Common Core say that teachers need autonomy.

He writes:

“Ironically, the critique of standards as unwarranted, creativity-stifling impositionsis grounded in many of the same autonomy assumptions about the power of unencumbered individuals to drive innovation and improvement. For example, many supporters and critics appear to share the idea that regulation stifles creativity. What separates the two perspectives is a different notion of size and characteristics of the group that can be trusted with autonomy. For supporters of standards, high-stakes assessments, charter schools, and privatization, the group to be counted upon is small: the really smart entrepreneurs. For some opponents, the number is large: virtually everyone.

Curious, this idea that schools should have autonomy, but teachers should not.

Read this provocative article.