The Common Core initiative (CCI) is a nation-wide education standard for students K through 12 to help better prepare students for college. It provides a standard that each child should achieve, guidelines on how to get each grade level to meet these standards, and standardize testing across all US schools.
CCI started from research prepared over 10 years ago on how to improve the US education system and then a few years ago (2009), the National Governors Association assigned various experts to develop a nation-wide educational standard program which became CCI.
The NGA is more like an industry association in which states governors and their staff may participate. The objectives of NGA is to provide a single source for policy issues between the states and the Federal government. Today, about 40 states have adopted the CCI standard.
Related: See all ANC stories on Common Core.
The goal over the past 10 years or so by the Federal government has been to improve education and narrow the gap between races. Most, if not all, reports and studies show a huge gap between the education levels of Asians, Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics.
President Bush (W) started the “No Child Left Behind” program. The goals on paper were noble and well-intended but the implementation and execution of this program fell way short of its intended objective.
The results showed very small improvements by the low performing students while the students who normally excelled in school actually performed worse because teachers has to spend 80% of their time focused on the low performers.
President Obama then created “Race to the Top” which provided $4.5 billion in funding to encourage states to compete for this money by improving education scores. It has had no impact. See Carol Burris’s Washington Post story for more details on the history and impact of these programs (Washington Post).
The major push for the Common Core came from the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, through his Gates Foundation which in 2013 alone has given over $200 million to encourage the creation and adoption of the Common Core. (The Foundation’s contributions go further back but the amounts are unknown at this time.) Most of this money was given to the US Department of Education and the NGA.
Gates’s intent with the Common Core is not known. He is either pushing an agenda to Federalize education or does not completely understand the major issues with Common Core. Based on our knowledge of Gates and his political affiliations (a liberal), we are speculating that Gates fully understands the impact of Common Core and therefore would be pushing an agenda and ideology.
CCI Pros and Cons:
The intended objectives of the CCI program are to improve education for our children. With US students falling way behind our international counter-parts, we all probably agree education reform is needed. However, the Federal government has failed over the past 20-30 years at improving our educational system.
Check out the video documentary from 2011 “Waiting on Superman” that is a fantastic film on the poor condition of the US school system. It will not only leave you stunned at the educational crisis but also worried for your kids in school.
So, the Pros of CCI are:
-Improve our kids education
-Reduce disparity between races
-Standardize curriculum and testing on national level
-Improve the US education system on a world scale
However, the Cons are compelling:
-The Federal gov’t continues to create failing educational standards
-CCI tests appear to be so hard that up to 70% of students are failing
-Kids test scores in early adopting states (NY) are very bad
-Teachers are assessed on these scores and fired
-Kids are held back a grade because of these scores
-The scores between races have widened significantly
-The security and tracking of the student info to a Federal database
From Carol Burris’s research into NY CCI scores and her Washington Post article: Instead of narrowing the race disparity, the gap has significantly increased with many black students scoring “Below Standard”. This gap has shockingly increased from 15-20% below standard to now 50-70% below standard (see graph below; Blue is pre-CCI scores).
Many states who have adopted CCI are reconsidering this decision with Indiana being the first to drop it (story). Youtube and many social sites are seeing more and more posts from frustrated parents on how CCI is much harder and confusing:
Sources and Links for additional Information:
Video on the goal of Common Core (Vimeo)
Washington Post: The Myth of Common Core
Rethinkingschools.com: The Problems with CC
United Nations: Human Development Report 201
Waiting on Superman – Documentary video from 2011