Education is a crucial resource that determines our children’s future and our society’s well-being. As America’s citizenry grows more diverse, we must reach out to include all of our children in the promise of America. As the global economy matures, it requires increasing levels of knowledge and deep understanding of the forces that shape our lives and our future. For these reasons, we must intensify our efforts to improve education. This is the historic challenge facing American education in the twenty-first century.
All students—regardless of race or class—deserve a first-rate liberal arts education, rich in the study of history, science, literature, geography, civics, mathematics, the arts, technology, and foreign languages. At the present time, there is growing pressure on our schools to reduce time spent on these disciplines and subjects to make room for what is now called “21st century skills.”
Skills are important and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has identified skills that all children need such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. But P21’s approach to teaching those skills marginalizes knowledge and therefore will deny students the liberal education they need. Cognitive science teaches us that skills and knowledge are interdependent and that possessing a base of knowledge is necessary to the acquisition not only of more knowledge, but also of skills. Skills can neither be taught nor applied effectively without prior knowledge of a wide array of subjects.
Education policy and practice should be based on sound research and informed by an understanding of what has worked and what has failed in the past. Attempts to teach skills apart from knowledge have failed repeatedly over the last century because they do not work. Unless it is fundamentally revised, the program put forth by P21 also will fail. In the meantime, it is undermining the quality of education in America.
We, undersigned, call on P21 and other advocates of 21st century skills to reshape their effort by putting knowledge and skills together at the core of their work.
February 20 • In this Education Week webinar Lynne Munson talks about how the arts can play a powerful role in CCSS implementation. To register for the archived webinar, sign in here. Or view Lynne’s PowerPoint where she unveils high school-level TDQs comparing two works of art.
February 11 • This morning on Rick Hess’s Straight Up blog is a “thoughtful conversation” he had with Student Achievement Partners Founding Member Jason Zimba on CCSS, math in particular. Lynne Munson commented on the interview, and her views also can be read in today’s Common Core blog
December 17 • Check out Education Week’s article “Arts Education Seen as Common-Core Partner.” Education Week
July 18 • Common Core has announced that the New York State Department of Education has awarded the organization a third contract to develop 6th-12th grade mathematics curriculum and corresponding professional development aligned to New York State’s Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). News release.
May 7 • Common Core receives glowing reviews for professional development offered in Beaufort County, NC. Read the full story in the Washington Daily News.
April 25 • Common Core’s Lynne Munson comments on the pressures of high stakes testing and the effect it can have on student learning in Roberta Munoz’s article “Make it of Break it: High Stakes Testing Pros and Cons” on Education.com
April 4 • Common Core has announced that the New York State Department of Education has awarded it two contracts to develop
Pre-Kindergarten-5th grade mathematics curriculum aligned to NY State’s Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). News release.
April 3 • Common Core Creating Math Maps for New York State. News release.
March 27 • Common Core has announced that it is developing a series of CCSS-aligned K-8 curriculum maps in history and geography. News release.
March 21 • Check out Education Week’s coverage of Common Core’s “Truant From Schools: History, Science, and Art” event!
March 15 • Common Core releases data showing curriculum narrowing affecting all students.
March 9 • Common Core celebrates Virginia’s decision to abandon SB185, a bill that would have eliminated state mandated science and social studies testing for third graders. You can read more about this issue, and Common Core’s advocacy work, in this recent blog entry.
December 8 • Check out Education Week’s coverage of Common Core’s recent national survey of school teachers.