When a task force recommended a set of standards in 2009 that came to be known as the Common Core, it did so in the belief it was time to replace the hodgepodge of standards in place in the 50 states. Little did the members know how controversial the standards would become (“ ‘Common Core’ Review: Standards Put to the Test,” The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 12).
I understand the frustration and anger that many people feel about the Common Core. But I think there’s another side of the story that needs telling. Although the U.S. has a long history of local control of education, the existence of national standards does not mean abolishing this tradition. Despite rumors, nothing prohibits developing and implementing locally developed standards.
The fixation on local control forgets that in a mobile society those students who move from one state to another are shortchanged. Prior to the Common Core, high school diplomas could- and did – mean very different things from state to state and district to district. I don’t think we can afford that in the global economy. The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress make it painfully clear the price we pay for failing to change.
I’m not saying that national standards are a panacea for the ills afflicting public education in this country. But I submit that they are indispensable. It’s how the standards are used that should be our concern. If they are used strictly for diagnostic purposes, they provide invaluable feedback to all stakeholders. Unfortunately, they’re used for punitive purposes. Quite naturally, they are resented and resisted. Rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater, however, I think it’s time to use the Common Core more fairly.
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