The Common Core Standards and the Future of American Education

Posted on August 31, 2012

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As some of you may know, the Common Core Standards have their fair share of critics in Utah (my home state). Though Utah has already adopted the Standards, there’s a small group of Common Core detractors–non-educators, mostly– who are pushing hard for a repeal. So far, the Standards remain intact here, though we’ve been forced to pull out of the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC). I’m proud to say that my colleagues and I at the School Improvement Network have played an key role in keeping the Common Core in Utah, but the fight isn’t over yet. The following is a statement I wrote at the request of Utah education leaders in support of the Common Core Standards:

For the last four years I have watched the development and rollout of the Common Core. Unlike many opposing these common standards, I have traveled many times to Washington, D.C. and several states to meet with the groups driving and implementing this initiative. I have collaborated with more than 25 state leaders to review and help with the Common Core. I have met with officers of the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association (NGA), and the U.S. Department of Education, and have attended many state and district meetings. Through my experience with leaders and teachers I have learned and can attest to the following:

1.Common Core State Standards are the best option currently available to help our students become ready for the challenges of college and career.

2.The Common Core State Standards are NOT a federal initiative. The Common Core State Standards are state driven and controlled. It is clear that the only component of this initiative driven by the federal government or the U.S. Department of Education is the support for common standards nationally.

3.The Common Core, when implemented correctly, will enable us as a nation to be more competitive globally and help move test scores in the right direction.

4.The Common Core pushes students to higher levels of achievement and prepares them for college and/or career – they leave high school ready for work or college instead of needing remediation to get ready for college work.

5.Students in states that choose not to participate in Common Core will have greater challenges in college entrance because universities will question what and how they were taught. On the other hand, the skills that students learn in Common Core states are very clear and rigorous.

6.Utah will fall farther behind (and be laughed at) nationally if we continue to knee jerk our support of Common Core and SBAC assessment consortia participation. It will cost much more money to write standards and assessments on our own, and besides, the reasons that Common Core opponents site for withdrawing from the Standards initiative and SBAC are inaccurate.

7.Business leaders are beginning to understand the Common Core nationally and are realizing that, when implemented with fidelity, students will be ready for college and/or career. This WILL equalize many of the challenges facing business leaders who are hiring employees from many different states.

8.Common Core is akin to the U.S. freeway system: if we back out, we cut off the inflow and outflow of jobs to Utah.

9.Nationally, groups opposing Common Core are union supporters and don’t want teachers to have more work to do – even though the Standards are best for students.

  1. Good teachers welcome the Common Core because the standards increase the learning and preparation for ALL students –teachers improve and students learn more.
  2. The Common Core issue should be about students – not politics. Unfortunately, some groups in Utah are turning an initiative that will make us better by creating great learning environments for our students, into a political issue. The sad fact is that this type of posturing makes everyone in Utah appear uniformed and uneducated – we are better than this. The uninformed grandstanding by groups in Utah is changing state policy for the wrong reasons. It will cost us jobs and hurt our economy over time, rather than create students that are college and career ready – the more enticing option.
  3. Common Core creates critical thinking, supports project based learning, prepares students for the real world, and makes learning relevant. These standards are informed by current research showing what works most effectively to prepare students to contribute to society.

As a business leader, I support the Common Core. This is a critical game-changer for our state. We must ride this through. It is the best thing for our students and for the employers and future employees in our state.

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