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The Common Core: Op-Ed

by Samantha Gordon - 2015-01-14

Education is political by nature. Public or Private, outside factors have great influence on the nature of a school and the curriculum itself. Funding is scarce and valuable, so therefore is a hugely influential. It has come to a point in public education where some districts or specific schools exceed the performance of others. There is a need for standardization. Such severe differences in quality of educations cannot be tolerated.

Over the past few years governors from several states across the country have come together to address this problem. The solution they developed is a system of standards mandated through a curriculum coined Common Core.

Without a doubt there are problems with Common Core. This curriculum requires periodic testing throughout all levels of schooling so teachings days will be lost. Further, the curriculum guide calls for “automatic” recognition of facts and principles, therefore promoting memorization instead of conceptual understanding. Additionally, intensive training of teachers needs to be conducted so they can properly teach these new courses. This requires significant time and resources to ensure this is carried out properly. Teachers will also lose some degree of freedom in how they run their classes as they must meet all the standards required by the Common Core. This restriction may ultimately be a good thing, as it would have to keep teachers and students moving forward in productive manners.

Common Core is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. The quality of education in America should be held to a certain standard and implementing this curriculum is an effective tool to hold that level of rigor necessary to enable students to be successful beyond elementary and secondary schooling. The first round of testing will be in the spring and reveal if this system has impacted California schools after the short time it has been in effect. I believe this is not a short term program, and the families and administrators must be patient with this process and not expect immediate results.

From a broader perspective this exploration of Common Core prompts the question of who really has the power to determine what students should learn? All across the country there are movements that are exploring alternate types of education. Independent schools are not bound by any state mandated curriculums. Some schools are affiliated to religion, and therefore their curriculums are altered. Additionally there are philosophies such as “un-schooling” which abandons traditional classroom schooling and dictates that the students’ learning be done outside the classroom through wilderness exploration and skill development. While un-schooling might sound extreme, how is the concept of place-based, experiential learning different between un-schooling and the curriculums of many trendy semester schools, which encourage students to invest themselves into their surroundings and learn through meaningful action, often outside the classroom. So, which is the “correct” way to educate the youth of this country? How could one even determine this?

“So what?” you may ask yourself. The relevance here is that with all of these different styles and methods of education at play it is our obligation to be informed and explore all that is out there. As Chadwick students, we are very family with a certain type of curriculum and teaching style, but soon enough we will be mixed in with students from different backgrounds, and thus owe it to those who we will possibly be engaging with in the future to educate ourselves on systems that are not our own, because the manner in which one was educated is very influential and indicative of who they are as an individual in this world.


Article Keywords:

education, school, curriculum, common, core, students

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