The Common Core State Standards are a federal effort intended to put state education programs on a national, level playing field. Created in 2009 by the National Governors Association, Common Core initially consisted of testing standards for mathematics and "English language arts" (literacy) to be implemented as a series of tests. Other subjects may be added later, and these include science, history, government, etc.
Common Core was embraced by the Obama administration, which encouraged states to adopt the educational standards by offering federal "Race to the Top" grants. Essentially, this is a bribe. At its inception, 45 of the 50 states joined the initiative. Texas and Alaska did not join and, interestingly, Nebraska and Virginia are members, but have opted not to embrace the standards.
There also appears to be pushback in progress as people are beginning to question the necessity of a national education standard. For example, Alabama and Indiana have introduced legislation to repeal the standard in their states. Georgia and Oklahoma recently decided against adopting standardized tests.
Why the sudden interest in education? First, owing to the vast size of the United States and its population's cultural diversity, people question the practicality of a "one-size-fits-all" curriculum. For example, the cultural differences between New England, the Mid-Atlantic, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest and the Northwest are substantial. True, math is math and English is English, but how these subjects are taught depends on the nuances of the region. Second, Common Core emphasizes testing as opposed to teaching and rote learning versus lecturing, thus failing to account for different teaching styles that accommodate cultural differences. Consequently, we will likely see more teachers with education degrees rather than degrees in the subjects they teach. Finally, Common Core trumps the authority of local school boards, whose members are supposed to be in tune with local educational needs.
The public's lack of knowledge regarding Common Core is disturbing. We should all be asking, "What is best for the youth of our community?"
Palm Harbor, Fla.
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