May 4, 2013 in Opinion

Editorial: Support for Common Core broad, deserved

 

Common Core standards have been discussed, debated and adopted in 45 states since 2009, but apparently this news bypassed some people who want to thwart implementation before getting up to speed.

The effort began when the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers teamed up to devise voluntary standards for math and reading. Despite years under the federal No Child Left Behind regime, states still had not found an education plan that would prepare students for a smooth transition to college or a career. The business community signed on because the United States was slipping on a number of global competitiveness measures.

NCLB ultimately failed because it didn’t call for higher standards. It merely mandated that states test under whatever system they had. States with lower standards could more easily meet the federal benchmarks.

But lately, Common Core has been smeared as a federal effort to ensure that all schools are the same and that the students become indoctrinated with liberal dogma. Back in March, Glenn Beck devoted his radio show to the topic, spreading disinformation with his special blend of ignorance and hyperbole.

According to an Idaho Education News article, he ranted: “Progressives have jammed this through in the dead of night. Besides being dumber, our kids are going to be indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology. We will not save our country unless we save it first from this attack.”

The next day, the inbox at the Idaho Department of Education began to fill up with criticisms of Common Core.

The “progressives” in Idaho would be state lawmakers – overwhelmingly conservative – who debated Common Core in broad daylight before adopting it. State schools chief Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter, both staunch conservatives, are also supportive. Common Core is set to be implemented this fall.

Nonetheless, the fear remains, and it’s currently mucking up the race for Coeur d’Alene school board positions. “Local control” and “state sovereignty” are the battle cries, but critics fail to understand that the idea came from the state and that local districts still have control.

Common Core isn’t a curriculum; it provides higher standards for curricula. In most states, math instruction would be moved up a year, meaning, for example, fifth-graders would be learning what a sixth-grader was once taught. Reading instruction would also become more rigorous.

The Obama administration supports Common Core, which is a deal-breaker for some people. But this isn’t like health care reform, where participation is mandated. Current and former Republican governors, such as Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal, support Common Core.

A lot of thought went into this, much more than goes into any of Glenn Beck’s programs. The states collaborated to standardize the sequence of learning in math and reading and then benchmarked the standards against international systems where children are currently learning at a higher level.

Leaders of all political persuasions have gotten on board. Once they learn why, perhaps the critics will, too.

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