November 18 2013
Policy Focus: A Candid Look at Common Core
Vicki E. Alger
Americans increasingly expect to be able to tailor their lives according to their unique needs and preferences. Employment practices are becoming more flexible as a growing number of Americans telecommute and use new technologies to work at odd hours and from remote locations. Americans pick and choose their entertainment at the time of their convenience.
Sadly, too much of American education ignores the benefits of such flexibility and specialization, instead moving in the opposite direction toward one-size-fits-all schooling. This includes the push for all states to adopt Common Core national standards in English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics for grades K-12. The purpose of Common Core was to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students should know to be prepared for college and their future careers. However, there is growing concern that having uniform standards will negatively impact students, schools, and state budgets.
Rather than raising standards, experts warn that Common Core’s standards are no more rigorous than the average existing state standards. Unsurprisingly, the curriculum is being used to advance a partisan political agenda, showcasing pro-labor union and pro-universal healthcare materials, along with more graphic adult books that some parents find objectionable. Common Core can also hinder the individualization sorely needed in K-12 education.
While all children need to learn the basics, there are many paths to get them there. There are better ways than embracing a national curriculum developed by Washington to ensure that children master necessary knowledge and skills.