Editorials

Common Core: The standards draw critics left &right 2015.10.07

At Morenci's board of education meeting Monday, a parent urged others to do their own research about Common Core standards—a set of academic standards for core subjects that is used across the country. Researching the topic is an excellent idea, but success depends on how it's done.

The obvious approach is to enter "common core" into a search engine and see what comes up. Now you're faced with the dilemma presented to teachers and librarians everywhere: How do you know what to believe? If you don't like the notion of common academic standards taught across the country, you will quickly find support for your position. And you will also find pages and pages of misinformation to back up your stance.

Common Core standards are a unique concept in that criticism comes from both the left and the right, although generally  for varying reasons.

For this writer, it’s not a matter of government intrusion into the educational system. Probably the majority of those attending the meeting went to school when state standards were imposed on local districts.

Instead, it's the manner in which Common Core is paired with standardized testing and the ridiculous notion that every child in America must be college-ready upon graduation. The only way to make that happen is to water down college education—make it something for the masses.

It’s easy to get fired up all over again over opposition to Common Core. The only remedy is talk to teachers and hear them say that Common Core standards are not to blame, and, in fact, are good standards to maintain. 

An antidote to the notion of government intrusion are the words of an elementary teacher who likes Common Core because it doesn’t tell her how to teach. It provides the expected outcomes and she’s left to move her students to that point.

On a website that’s been critical of Common Core, a math teacher writes that she now appreciates the standards because they require students to understand mathematical concepts and not merely memorize math facts.

Some parents at the board meeting had an excellent reason to question the new math program: My kid doesn't get it. We’re certain teachers and administrators will monitor the situation to know where the problem lies and how to make it change for the better.

In the meantime, one thing is clear: Morenci's math scores are miserable and changes must be made. The new program aims to make that happen.