Common Core: What are the stakes it raises?

When Jeb Bush in the Republican Presidential Debate faced off against Marco Rubio in the August of 2015, the former hardly differed from the advocates of the Common Core Educational Standards. Bush mentioned that he was against any Federalization of the US education system and constitutionally education should be left to the states. During the same month, in the Iowa State Fair at Des Moines, Iowa, he labeled the Common Core as ‘poisonous’. While his supporters in the ultra-conservative Tea Party cheered on, they hardly realized that what Bush paraphrased as his ideal educational model, free from federal interference and fully state-controlled, is exactly what the political and constitutional implications of the Common Core is all about.

Common Core: An Evaluation in US Education

What is Common Core Education Plan actually?

The Common Core education plan is to standardize curriculum at each grade in K-12 schools: to make it more content rich in the English Language Arts and Mathematics. Standardizing education and each class would ensure that each child would perform equally well in high school and later in the job market. The target was that no child be left behind. The standardization has been followed and run by the majority of states in the USA, after integrating them with local traditions of teaching and schooling.

Historical Roots of the Common Core Education Plan  

What is of paramount importance regarding the Common Core debate is that many educationists and renowned teachers has rejected this model as it was based on a ‘socialist’ structure and did not take into account the needs of each unique child within the US educational system. A point sorely missed here is that, neither does Common Core necessarily boils down to the lowest common denominator of education nor is it a ‘socialist’ take-over of the US local and home-schooling system. It is rather, an educational process with roots in the American Conservative era think tanks of President Reagan and George W.H. Bush Sr. The basic principle was not to measure the costs of educational input that went into student schooling, but to sent benchmarks for higher student achievement and performance for the job market of the 21st Century. Historically anti-left, it is clear now why many on the liberal left have shunned the Common Core education plan. On the other hand, the Tea Party’s false understanding of Common Core as ‘Socialist’ is based on its sweeping structure, dependence on federal funding and more so, it being systematically implemented from 2009 under President Obama.

Political Implications of Common Core Education Plan

In a recent report, a Paleo-Constitutionalist news publication holds the Common Core as ‘Orwellian’ and a threat to the US democratic system. It reported that the Common Core education plan allows the federal government to bypass at least three constitutional laws. The result is a Shakespearean witches’ brew inversion and co-mingling of the fair and foul dialectic in which Republicans and Democrats all have a role to play. Also, there were numerous reports online that certain sections of both the left liberals and conservatives had distanced themselves from the Common Core curriculum. While 43 out of 48 states has adopted the federally funded, but state-run, educational plan, the confused political rhetoric and policy behind it have resulted in a proliferation of myths that are not only ridiculous but hardly based on facts. What will be elucidated here are the history and facts behind the common core curriculum, to separate it from the inverted and callous political rhetoric. What will be further clarified are both the roots of the Common Core Education Plan in the Reagan era and its politically Conservative origins.

Myths and Reality about Common Core:

There are certain fasciations and facts about Common Core among the American public,

Myth: Common Core brings education to the lowest common denominator and hence it is a step backward. Besides, Common Core is not internationally benchmarked.

Reality: Common Core educates to high standardizations, so that, in each grade at K-12 schools students learn equally and are well prepared when in high school or the job market.

Myth: Common Core is a ‘Socialist’ and Leftist Agenda for Federal takeover of state run local varieties of education.

Reality: The structure of Common Core might resemble ’Socialist’ forms of educational plans with Central funding and a sweeping standardized curriculum. But it is all about student performance and skills to meet high school standards and the job market. It enables them to perform better with more developed skills after having been grounded in content rich subjects. It has its roots in Reagan era Conservative education policies. It is only its recent implementation by the states, under centralized funding, that it has incurred the wrath, hate and misunderstanding of those representing the ultra-conservative voters such as the Tea Party.

Myth: Common Core is bent on eradicating the rich individual and local American traditions of schooling.

Reality: Common Core is not bent on such an agenda. Rather, it has been integrated into local schooling. Teachers get educated in the process of the setting up the curriculum in dialogue with state administration representatives.

Myth: Common Core will teach about multiculturalism and globalization ignoring American Exceptionalism.

Reality: Common Core does not extend to the social sciences or history and hence this is not a problem.

Myth: Common Core will teach about ‘other’ cultures strange to the US.

Reality: Learning about hitherto catastrophically misunderstood cultures will lead to empathy and understanding in processes of globalization and intercultural amity.

Pros and Cons about Common Core:

Common Core has its own share of pros and cons,

Pros:

  • Common Core will set international standards in US education.
  • It will be easier for states to set up standardized testing.
  • Costs for standardized testing will be lower as each state will run on an equal budget with equal expenses.
  • The rigor of the classroom and students’ thinking skills will increase preparedness for high school and critical thinking as they will now be tested for multiple types of reasoning and thinking skills.
  • Teacher collaboration and student mobility will increase as similar standards of education and testing will be in place over all of the teaching community and throughout the USA.

Cons:

  • Common Core standards will be a challenging and slow transition as the vast majority of students and teachers are unaccustomed to the new curriculum and the new ways of teaching.
  • Common Core will result in large sections of outstanding teachers and administrators to follow other career options. Many experienced teachers will retire rather than adjust with the new system. Making students adjust and perform to the new system will cause greater stress for both students and teachers.
  • The broad standards of the Common Core are vague as yet will take time to be completely formulated.
  • There will be no provision for students with special needs as all have to conform to the same standard.
  • States that initially adopted a difficult curriculum will have to be brought down to Common Core middle ground levels and hence standards will decline in those states.
  • Textbooks and internet-based technology have to be updated for many small-scale state schools.
  • The stakes for testing will be higher as competition will increase further.
  • The Common Core is for English Language Arts and Mathematics only. Education in Modern Languages, the Natural and Social Sciences is not included in this plan.

The formulation of Common Core for standardization might hold certain benefits. But it is also a controversial public and political policy that will have nationwide effects on the K-12 education system of the USA. Whether these effects are all positive or negative remains to be seen in the long run

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