Are these standards so bad? No, of course not, but they are standards and--like many state wide standards--they are not always developmentally appropriate and equivalent when comparing states (Schickedanz, 2004; Neuman & Roskos, 2005). There is also the ever present issue of using standards of all types (academic, early learning, and these common cores) to create environments that produce measurable learning improvements while balancing the use of teaching strategies that are age appropriate (Feldman, 2010). On the other hand, there is evidence of a need for universiality in systematic student acquisition of basic concepts ("alphabetic knowledge," "counting," "knowledge of fundamental shapes," etc.) that states--when examining their standards side-by-side--can agree are pretty much common in their curricular expectations for young children (Bracken & Crawford, 2010). Standard-based accountability reform for Early Childhood has been steaming ahead for the past decade or so (Brown, 2007). So we may have to deal with these standards. Here's some ideas to consider:
1. Having national standards COULD potentially keep standards from being "culturally tailored and inclusive." In other words, a national perception of what children should know should not overshadow what children typically are expected and historically shown to know throughout your local county. Just because the "national trend" tells you that ALL Kindergarten children should be able to read does not mean that your children in your county are expected to do that. The culture of your local community may see children who read by the end of first as adequate. On the other hand, just because your local community children read by First Grade does not mean that it should be the rock solid standard for the whole country. If national standards are implemented, this flex is necessary.
2. Having the buy-in from the collective of early childhood professionals may be daunting. Ireleand recently began testing the waters in using national early childhood standards for its child care profession (Doyle, Logue, and McNamara, 2011). An individual survey of child care beliefs about national standards uncovered some intersting ideas. First, many child care workers were not totally enthusiastic about national standards dictating their classrooms. Even more interesting is that the more satisfied child care workers were with their job and abilities, the more they viewed the implementation of national standards with skepticism. So, why would we want to implement a system here analogously if the those teachers in the possibly best work environments see it as a threat?
3. National standards mean a national standard assessment. We see the controversary that comes with that across-the-boards assessment whenever we breath the word SAT or ACT. We may be a union of states here in the US, but peoples are different depending on where you live. They have different ideas on what demonstrates competency and mastery. Folks in the ivory towers of Boston might see a test as an adequate assessment. On the other hand, if you are accustomed to growing up in Oklahoma or Kansas where you learned to prove you mastery through hands-on activities on the farm, a test seems somewhat shallow. I would advocate a nice continuum of assessments if we must use common core standards. Here's the catch: parents would have a mandatory choice. They could either allow their children to be assessed using a test (inauthentically) or assessed using a portfolio or work-sample approach (authentic and performance-based).
Just something to think about. This issue is FAR from over or settled.