Thursday, July 29, 2010

Common Core Standards - Good Idea or Bad Idea

In the effort to reform (for the sake of reform in my opinion), the current government administration is pushing for Common Core Standards for the entire country. Sounds like a good idea? That is what many of the top educational research organizations are saying, including the Fordham Institute.

But don't jump to conclusions based on the Fordham Institute rating scale. According to William J. Mathis, the research doesn't add up to being more economically competitive in the international community, which is one of the core arguments for those who support the standards.

With the conflicting research, why are we jumping ahead with creating national standards in education? Because we aren't doing as well as some think we should be, which therefore means we must need to make our standards more rigorous. Yet, the difference in schools in low income neighborhoods to more affluent areas is striking according to many who have taught in both places. Does creating a common standard necessarily provide a better education for all those students? While they claim that these standards prepare students for college and work expectations, I wonder if they only focus on the academics and not the practical experience of working. It seems that today the focus on education is all about everyone must go to college and locally the vo-tech opportunities seem to be diminishing (according to inside sources). But is college right for everyone?

I often hear complaints often about how we no longer make anything in the U.S. and that we live off the backs of poorer countries. I feel that this is due to the "college for everyone" attitude that seems to be more than just an "if you want to go you can" attitude and has become an "everyone must go to college to make something of themselves" attitude. Is this more detrimental to our children's psyche if they aren't good at the academics but perhaps have a talent working with their hands or in an area of art such as music or photography? Which leads us back to Common Core Standards and how they will influence education.

One final thought on common standards is that we live in a very large and diverse country. Everything I have learned in my educational courses as well as in my personal experiences, leads to the benfits of individualized education rather than a "one size fits all" mentality. When we take away control of standards from the individual school which understands their student population and put it in the hands of a higher group whether that is the district, the state, or a national board, aren't we disempowering the teachers? If they have little control over what must be taught to meet these standards, what choice do they have but to teach to the test? Why are we so keen on removing local control of educational decisions from the people who know and understand our children the most, us?

While Colorado is still considering the standards, 26 states have already adopted them. Visit to read more about the Common Core Standards. To read more opinions on the subject, check out this site.

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