The 2014-2015 school year will mark the implementation of the Common Core Standards within 45 states across our country. As with any educational plan (i.e. No Child Left Behind), it is been met with great scrutiny.
What are the Common Core Standards? According to Patte Barth, Director of the Center for Public Education, “The common core standards are intended to define the knowledge and skills in English language arts and math,” (April 25, 2013, para. 2). The mission of the Common Core Standards is to create a universal understanding of what students need to learn in order to be contributing citizens within our society. The ambitious goals of the standards would improve student performance within math and English, making the U.S. competitive with high-achieving nations across the world. According to Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA, “Common Core addresses inequity, providing a wide set of standards which ensure a complete education for all students increasing the likelihood that they will graduate from high school ready to succeed,” (May 7, 2013, para. 9). The implementation of the Common Core Standards boasts a bipartisan approval of governors, educators, teachers unions, business leaders and policy makers.
How will the Common Core Standards affect my children? In the 2014-2015 school year both of my children will be in middle school and will experience seven class periods versus the current eight class periods. This would mean tougher choices in what courses they would be permitted to take. For example, in addition to the cores (math, science, communication arts, social studies and physical education) this school year my son takes three electives (orchestra, a gifted course and a foreign language). Next school year he will lose one of his electives and have to choose two out of the three. That will be a difficult decision for him, but one he will be forced to make due to the fact that the standards are forcing more core classroom time (math, science, communication arts and social studies), reducing time for students to take fine arts or foreign language courses.
I am still on the proverbial fence regarding the Common Core Standards. On the one hand it appears to be a step in the right direction to attain an educational policy that addresses the needs of all children and allows for teachers to do what they do best, that is teach. However, what is the cost of these standards when it comes to the type of education our children will be receiving? They will be forced to make difficult choices when it comes to fine arts and foreign language programs. As educational budgets get tighter and schools are forced to cut programs, will fine arts and language programs meet their demise? Will these standards make our children more competitive within the global market? Will this jeopardize the formation of well-rounded children? Are fine arts and foreign language important aspects of the curriculum?
I have argued in the past that No Child Left Behind failed schools, students and teachers with its stringent guidelines. The Department of Education realized how debilitating No Child Left Behind was on educators and granted waivers to states in an effort to give power back to school districts to educate children. However, will the Common Core Standards be a repeat of the restrictions of No Child Left Behind or will this be the final attempt to equal the playing field for education across our country?
Articles of Interest & References:
Barth, P. (April 25, 2013). The Common Core Standards: Truths, Untruths and Ambiguities. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patte-barth/the-common-core-standards_1_b_3149738.html
Common Core Standards — http://www.corestandards.org/
Editorial Board. (May 27, 2013). Caution and the Common Core. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/28/opinion/caution-and-the-common-core-state-education-standards.html
Van Roekel, D. (May 7, 2013). Common Core Standards: Get It Right. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-van-roekel/common-core-state-standards_b_3231085.html