In a blunt letter to teachers and administrators on Monday, Baltimore County school Superintendent Dallas Dance admitted that his school district’s implementation of the national Common Core has been a nearly unmitigated disaster.
Throughout the first month of the school year, Baltimore County elementary school teachers have experienced a host of frustrating problems in their attempts to access the school language arts portion of the statewide curriculum, reports The Baltimore Sun.
Problems arose in August when district administrators foisted a glitch-filled computerized version of the curriculum onto teachers just before the school year began.
As recently as last week, Dance was singing a far more positive tune about the half-baked implementation.
“We are building the plane as we fly it,” he said then according to The Sun, “but let’s be clear our passengers are safe.”
Complaints continued to mount, though. Teachers couldn’t access all the information they needed to plan day-to-day lesson plans. As a result, they were forced to stay at school as late as 10 p.m. on many weekday nights.
In his letter, Dance praised the “hard work, perseverance, resiliency, and dedication” of teachers and administrators, notes The Sun. He could “feel the high levels of anxiety throughout our organization,” he also explained.
“I must personally take sole responsibility for the issues and mistakes evident in our Elementary English/Language Arts Unit 1 curriculum that we implemented this school year,” Dance wrote. “I have never believed in excuses, and this instance is no exception. To our elementary administrators and teachers, I want to personally thank you for your patience and flexibility as we develop future units.”
Presumably, then, the Baltimore County school district is still fiddling with the curriculum it is failing to implement in its elementary schools.
In the meantime, the district has been sending out old-school, printed versions of the language arts curriculum to individual schools. Improvements in computer technology aren’t expected until Halloween or so.
Superintendent Dance made national news in late September when sat shamelessly and watched while a Baltimore County parent got violently arrested for expressing frustrations about the implementation of the Common Core at a public forum on the subject.
Somehow, the parent, Robert Small, a father of two Baltimore County elementary schoolchildren, was then charged with assaulting a police officer in the second degree. (RELATED: Now they’re arresting people who complain about the Common Core)
Small, 46, stood up out of order during a question-and-answer forum held by the Maryland State Department of Education. He interrupted Dance and explained — calmly, though not particularly fluidly — his belief that the Common Core lowers standards of education for children in the district.
The Baltimore County state’s attorney’s office then took one look at the case against Small and promptly dropped all charges. (RELATED: Update: Charges dropped against dad arrested for objecting to Common Core)
This fall, for the first time, 45 states and the District of Columbia have begun implementing the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which attempts to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.
The Common Core standards demand that students know certain things by certain grade levels, but do little to describe how teachers should impart those skills.
Criticism of the Common Core has risen sharply. Opposition has brought together conservatives who are opposed to a federal takeover of public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.