Once again, Common Core has the starring role at the Louisiana legislative session. As usual, the focus is not on what’s best for our children, but on politics. The idea of Common Core and the need for high standards has been around for several years now. Only recently has it been a punching bag for ideological parties whose real motives have nothing to do with educating kids. But here is the REAL issue – doing what’s best to make sure our children are prepared to compete in a 21st century global economy.
There’s an abundance of data and research proving that individual states’ standards have been out of sync not only with the rest of the world, but also with each other, and only a handful of states have had standards that could be considered high quality. But I don’t need data to tell me this.
As a university professor, I come across many students – undergraduate and graduate – who write at a level equivalent to that of 10th grade CCSS. What I see lacking most in students’ papers are those higher-level, critical thinking skills – there’s no comparing and contrasting; very few references to text to support claims; little to no elaboration to explain the “why” behind the “what”; and, at times, no substantive conclusion that ties together the elements of an essay. There have been some courses where I’ve found myself dedicating more time helping students develop writing skills than on teaching the subject matter itself. However, you don’t have to be a university professor to recognize the need for higher standards.
I was one of hundreds of thousands who evacuated during Hurricane Katrina. While my son was an infant at the time, I knew many people with school-age children attending schools in states to which they evacuated. It didn’t take long for them to realize how far behind their children were compared to other kids in the same grade. Some even chose to stay where they landed so their children could get a better education, one of which was a family member of mine. As a 9th grade student, she didn’t know how to compute fractions or write a formal essay when Katrina hit. She ended up at a high school in Houston. There she was properly assessed, remediated, went on to graduate from high school and be accepted into a community college. While it’s great that she is now a self-sustainable, working citizen contributing to society, it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t until she left Louisiana that someone finally focused on what was best for her.
There are some challenges with widespread implementation of CCSS, but we shouldn’t let the greater purpose become overshadowed by political nonsense. When you get down to the basics, it really should be about preparing our children – our future – for success.
David Brooks does a nice job illustrating the “ideological circus” around Common Core. Click here to read his article.