Common Core

Many regard this effort to standardize national educational curricula (to “get every American student on the same page”) as a crucial step towards greater standardization and accountability. Proponents of Common Core believe it will improve the educational system by: providing equality of opportunity in all public schools; helping students who move from one state to another “pick up where they left off;” and holding teachers and schools uniformly and transparently accountable for the success of their students. In addition, some claim that Common Core standards will help American students compete more effectively in a global economy because they place new emphasis on “higher level” critical thinking skills and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.  

Others see the same initiative as a dangerous move towards federal control over education, which is seen as stifling local innovation and diversity. Common Core is nothing less than an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government, say its critics, into areas historically under state and local control. Those who oppose Common Core believe that forcing all teachers and schools into the same “cookie cutter curriculum” ignores the very real fact that teachers and schools face widely varying challenges that require widely varying solutions.

Still others associate Common Core with a seemingly ever-increasing push toward high-stakes testing, which, they say, leads to ever-greater pressure to “teach to the test.” And many are unhappy with Common Core’s turn away from “educating the whole student” as it reduces attention to topics such as literature, creative writing, the arts, physical education, and social studies.

Thus each word of “Common Core” has its own proponents and detractors. Some believe that an equitable education is best supported by common standards while others believe that true equity can only result from a diversity of solutions. Some believe that the core value of education lies in giving students strong career options in a competitive environment, while others believe that supporting the “whole child” should be the ultimate goal of any educational system.

 

QUESTIONS TO PLAY WITH:

-In your view, is it a good or bad idea to establish national standards that create some conformity across U.S. educational efforts?

-If you support this effort, what - if any - concerns or questions do you still have about Common Core?  

-If you are critical of this effort, what - if any - aspects of Common Core do you find potentially positive?

Contributors: 

Cynthia Kurtz

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