Tonawanda News


April 20, 2014

DUVALL: In defense of the Common Core


Tonawanda News —

It’s an accepted fact, sadly, that American students are losing ground against students in other countries, especially in math. Another of the most important reasons to like the Common Core is its benchmarks are meant to make American students more competitive in the ever-shrinking world economy. 

In New York, when lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo adopted the Common Core standards it was generally greeted with a yawn outside, say, a school board meeting.

So how did something go from education policy wonkiness to a hot-button political issue?

Well, for starters, no parent wants to feel like their kid is dumb. Moving the goal line farther down the field is inevitably going to mean more students fall behind.

If we’re raising expectations that’s an unavoidable problem and we all need to step back, take a breath and realize that, in the long run, this is a good thing. 

Teachers rightly panicked, as well. Part of the Common Core is using test results as part of a their evaluation. If scores go down, so will a teacher’s job evaluation.

In response to the uproar from parents and teachers, Cuomo and lawmakers have agreed to take a step back. The tests are still being administered but they aren’t being counted on a student’s permanent record. It is likely that the Common Core tests will not be part of teacher evaluations in the short term, either — Cuomo said he favored holding off on using them as a metric earlier this month.

I understand the apprehension from all sides about sweeping changes in how we educate our children. Now is not the time to take steps backward. If we don’t up the expectations of our young people we will continue to lose ground to other nations. The end result will be a workforce that isn’t competitive — and a generation of Americans who aren’t as smart as the rest of the world.

That is a risk we can’t take.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter, @EricRDuVall.




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