KATIE ZERR: Change is needed in order to keep up


The rising tide against Common Core Standards according to some is gaining a foothold  among those who want the government to stay out of education.

A South Dakota woman, who has testified against the standards and has run for state office, recently said the Common Core standards are “a sham and a lie” meant to transform “a free America” to “world socialism (and) communism.”

One wonders on what she is basing her rhetoric, but it does show how intense some people are when it comes to anything even remotely connected to the federal government these days.

Opponents say the Common Core standards amount to a federal takeover of local education. Some academics say the math and reading standards are too weak; others say they are too demanding, particularly for young students.

In a country that lived through 10 years of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was an education bill that initiated from then President George Bush’s desk, it is disturbing that people are now concerned that federal government is too involved in the education of our nation.

If that is the problem with Common Core, then it too would have been the problem with NCLB as the threat of withholding Title funding (federal grants) if all students no matter what their race, mental capacity or economic status, failed to meet set standards. Standards-based education sets high standards and establishes measurable goals to improve individual outcomes in education. Although NCLB did not assert a national achievement standard, (each state set the standards) the law expanded the federal role in public education through annual testing, annual academic progress, report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes.

Common Core details what all students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and seeks to establish consistent education standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college programs or enter the workforce. Proponents and those who established these standards say the emphasis is on critical thinking and analytical skills, as opposed to memorization learning, and will enable American students to better compete in the global marketplace.

For years the United States has been lagging behind other countries in education for many reasons. Many, some involved in education and some who are not,  have voiced their opinion on why we are lagging behind. But a common thread in those discussions is that emphasis on the importance of education is common in those countries that score well in math, science and language.

Parents, educators and community expect students to do well in school throughout their education. They are expected to achieve high standards in every aspect of their education.

Everyone is in the same boat when it comes to education and expectations. Education evolves with technology and rigid methodology is not a part of how students are led to learn.

One of the reasons some experts say we are behind is that we fail in teaching our students that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. Some say our education system has not evolved from the manner in which students were taught during the great world wars. They say tradition in teaching is stifling the intellectual potential and possible economic prowess of our younger generations.

There are many arguments  about why our students are not keeping up with others in the world, but one constant is heard in each of these arguments: If  things do not change, our children will be left behind in the global markets and economies of the future. We will not be a powerhouse and will lose our place of power in the world.

If not Common Core, then other methods of expectations must emerge. We must expect our children to achieve, not just perform.

Responsibility must replace blame or no matter what educators do, our children will not keep up with world’s education standards.


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