Commentary

Common Core Doesn’t Add Up

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Growing up within the public school system, I dreaded the days or weeks when we had standardized tests. Sitting and answering question after question on a test that didn’t impact my grade made me question, why did this matter so much? It wasn’t until I was older, more educated, and therefore more aware of why states administered these standardized tests—and the policies that went with them—that I understood their purpose and meaning.

I grew up in the era of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). And with that came continuous testing as well as test preparation. The tests are currently still in place, though some educators and legislators have pushed for their removal on the grounds that such tests are extraneous and unnecessary.

Now, instead of NCLB, the United States has introduced and implemented Common Core. This “set of standards” in English and math are heavily emphasized in the K-12 curriculum. They were introduced in 2009 and backed by the National Governors Association. Since then, these standards have sparked political controversy throughout the country. Maybe I’m a bit confused, but it was my perception that people didn’t like NCLB because they didn’t like “Washington standards” determining whether or not their public school is “proficient” or “below standards.” Ultimately, however, isn’t that the goal of Common Core itself?

First off, Common Core standards were not developed by involved parent and educator stakeholders; they were created by testing and textbook companies looking to maximize their profit. In fact, educators have had very little involvement in the establishment of the Common Core Standards (CCS).

CCS was developed by a team composed of a significant number of individuals from the testing industry, yet lacks experienced teachers, concerned parents, or other involved stakeholders. Throughout the last decade, testing has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States. Textbook and testing companies are racing to support the developing standards: CCS was not developed by local educators or parents; it was developed by large companies looking to make a profit. Though I am not a parent, this bothers me.

Secondly, Common Core leads to a complete lack of local control. When CCS was first introduced, many states were quick to adopt the standards before evaluating their impact. The academic standards set forth by Common Core violate the fundamental right of states’ control. All public schools having to meet the same English and math standards is problematic. It’s a consistent “battle” as to who controls the content in public schools.

Local control over the public school system becomes nearly impossible, given Washington’s centralized standards encapsulated in CCS. In my opinion, those who know and understand what’s best for children are the parents and local educators involved in the education process themselves. One set of national standards is not adaptable to perfectly suit the educational needs of each child in the public school system. Individuals learns differently, and thus require the maximal classroom attention and nurture possible.

Children are the foundation of America. Today’s elementary school children soon become tomorrow’s leaders. Fostering the most successful educational environment possible for all children is the goal of all parents and educators. A strong education gives a child the power of knowledge and raise’s their self-confidence. But lately, many children are not able to stay on the path to success. In fact, some don’t start there at all because poor public schools and education inequality have contributed to the struggle of America’s education.

These are unfortunate issues, but I don’t believe Common Core is helping American children. The United States is ranked 17th in reading and 21st in science, yet the country is ranked fifth in spending per student. Something doesn’t add up there (Seriously. Have you ever tried to do a Common Core math problem? I’m about to graduate from a competitive collegiate institution and I struggle with those problems).

About Lauren Stimpert

Lauren is a senior at Bates College. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Bates College Republicans as well as the Secretary for the Maine Federation of College Republicans. She is a New Hampshire native and self-identified political junkie.

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