While most politicians agree that the K-12 school system in the United States is greatly in need of reform, the big question seems to be who have control over our children’s education? The recent acceptance of Common Core State Standards(CCSS) by 45 states and the District of Columbia which is a requirement to receive the Race to the Top (RTTT) government educational funding measure that was implemented by the Executive branch without the consent of elected officials, has polarized federal and state officials on both sides of the fence.
The Case for Common Core
The idea behind Common Core educational standards is to level the playing field for students across the nation, no matter where they attend school. In theory, students should be held to the same mathematic and English Language Arts academic performance standards whether they attend a “poor” inner-city school in one of the worst areas of New York or a well-off school in an affluent suburb of Boston.
The ultimate goal of the program is to make sure that all children in America are fully prepared to compete aggressively as part of the workforce in today’s global economy. Common Core education is, in theory, designed to give all students equal educational opportunities and provide national standards for education such as those that have been overwhelmingly successful in other countries such as Finland.
Arguments Against Common Core
The implementation of federal versus state standards for education is currently being tossed around like a political football. Many state representatives feel that educational standards are best handled on a local level and resent the fact that because schools need to accept Common Core in order to receive RTTT funding, the federal government has essentially overstepped its bounds and circumvented states’ constitutional rights to develop their own educational criteria.
Other arguments against CCSS are concerns over student data sharing, the quality of CCSS standards and how well, or not, they have been formulated, and the fact that the standards were created with very little state input. The sole mathematician on the Validation Committee, Dr. James Milgram from Stanford, refused to sign off on the standards because he felt the math education put students “two years behind their counterparts in other countries by the 8th grade.”
One important thing to keep in mind is that while the federal government has not officially mandated that states teach to CCSS criteria, they have made it virtually financially impossible for them not to do so. On the other hand, it is a proven fact that countries with national academic standards produced students who have a great advantage once they enter the workforce. The real question that both proponents and opponents need to come to an agreement on is not who is right or who is wrong, but can be done to best improve America’s educational system overall.
About the Author: Tommy Burgess wishes the government would figure out how to make sure everyone has access to equal K-12 education as well as higher education. He’s currently working to find affordable textbooks for his college age daughter. You can find out more about Slugbooks and other services online.