Tonawanda News

Columns

April 20, 2014

DUVALL: In defense of the Common Core

Tonawanda News — They’ve become the two dirtiest words in education, but the Common Core is very much worth defending.

There exists much misinformation about what the Common Core actually is and what it does. To start defending it, first you must understand it.

So what actually is the Common Core? It’s an effort supported by wide swaths of the business and political establishment. It creates a set of benchmarks for students in all grades, a baseline for what skills children should have at the end of each school year.

It was an important step because it replaced — in 44 states, anyway — a state-by-state system of evaluation that left many children unprepared for college or the professional workplace. Students in New York, which had some of the toughest school standards in the nation thanks to the implementation of mandatory Regents diplomas for high school graduates, were better off than most.

But consider a child from, say, Alabama, where school standards were much more lax. Though a graduate there might have the same GPA as a student in New York, it’s highly likely the New York student was farther along the learning spectrum. What is a C or a B here is an A somewhere else.

That’s no way to educate children in an advanced society.

One common criticism of the Common Core comes from Republicans who say it amounts to a federal takeover of schools. This could not be farther from the truth.

While Common Core does set a uniform benchmark it does not tell states or individual school districts what to teach children or how to teach it. Your child’s curriculum is ultimately the responsibility of your local school district and your child’s teacher and Common Core does nothing to change this. 

Furthermore, with no national standard how can we judge ourselves and the skills we teach our children against the rest of the world?

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