In my last Midnight Musing about black families turning to homeschooling to educate their children [Feb. 27], I ended on a thought about Common Core. Let’s pick up that discussion.
In a conversation I had with my dad about education he highlighted an inherent disparity in Common Core that is much deeper than what kinds of tests students are expected to take.
His example: If a kid in a school in Lincoln Park (a fairly affluent northside neighborhood of Chicago) and a kid in Englewood (a fairly impoverished southside neighborhood in Chicago) are held by the same academic standards, the kid in Englewood is still at a disadvantage because of the limited resources in his or her school. Resources, such as books, facilities, technology, and teachers or tutors may be better on the other side of town.
So, the deeper problem is not Common Core standards or the tests but resources. Factors such as computer literacy and subpar school tech equipment, for example, are major concerns and could prevent students from testing well.
43 states have adopted Common Core, but even in some of those states there is pushback from residents wanting to opt out of testing entirely.
The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that If more than 5 percent of students opt out of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams in Illinois, for example, the state could fail federal requirements, face sanctions and lose federal dollars.
There are those of course who are suspicious of federal involvement in education and feel it is up to each individual state to determine education standards. It should be noted, though, that federal law prohibits the Education Department from interfering in curriculum. Curriculum is determined at the state and local level.
The more I think about Common Core, and I don’t even have children, the more I see the benefits. As someone who may one day have children, I want my future children to have a chance at the best opportunities both nationally and internationally. That means the best education for ALL students in ALL parts of the country. If I raise my kids in the “hood,” they still would deserve the best education.
Nationally, some students are left in the dark academically which in some cases sets them up for possibly dropping out of school before earning a high school diploma and/or living at or below the poverty line as adults.
Internationally, when U.S. students as a whole are compared to students elsewhere they perform poorly in math and not much better in reading and science. U.S. students ranked 26th out of the 34 Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) countries, 21st in science, and 17th in reading in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Students in China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Liechtenstein were top PISA performers in math, reading, and science in 2012.
So, why is any of this important? In order to address the problems that face this and the next generation related to health, energy and infrastructure, for example, we will need people equipped to handle those concerns. That means improving math, science and reading among all U.S, students not just in select districts, cities, or states.