The Common Core Conundrum



Recently the Wooster Daily Record reported that two Ohio lawmakers are launching an initiative to repeal the Common Core standards being implemented in the state’s schools. Meanwhile, as the Columbus Dispatch notes, Governor John Kasich has voiced doubts about the standards, which he originally supported when they were adopted by Ohio in 2010.

If you’re confused and frustrated by the rancorous debate surrounding Common Core, you’re not alone. In an excellent overview of this issue, Jaime Fuller of the Washington Post summarizes the history of the Common Core initiative, its goals, its critics, and the stakes for K-12 education in the United States. The piece is well worth reading, whatever your position on the new standards.

In a debate that has been highly politicized and exploited by various interests, it’s important to remember why the Common Core (CC) was conceived in the first place. It had become painfully apparent that K-12 curricula and standards varied so radically among the 50 states that it was virtually impossible to compare how students in, say, Ohio were doing compared to kids in Michigan, Mississippi, or Massachusetts. Students in some states were getting a better education than students in some others. Students whose families moved from one state to another could find themselves in a school with a curriculum much more demanding, or less demanding, or just radically different from the one in their former school. Members of state school boards – and the consultants they hired to develop curricula and standards – often lacked the qualifications to develop K-12 programs that were both rigorous and realistic. American students beginning college-level study arrived with wildly varying levels of knowledge and competence, resulting in the need for extensive remedial work for some. More generally, this national patchwork of K-12 standards was reinforcing the social and economic inequality that is eroding the foundations of our Republic.

While implementation of CC faces some very real problems and challenges, the standards do represent a comprehensive approach to equalizing K-12 education in this country.

So for those who vehemently oppose CC, I would ask the following question: What do you propose we do instead? Return to the state-by-state approach, knowing all too well from our experience that it virtually guarantees inequality and inefficiency?

Alternatively – if you support a nationwide approach, but object to certain aspects of CC, how can we improve the design and implementation of CC? Let’s have a reasonable discussion about all this.


UPDATE (13 August 4:48 p.m.)

The Ohio House has scheduled three days of hearings next week to consider the Republican proposal to repeal CC.  The Wayne County Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Coalition are planning to turn out in force to support the repeal.



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1 Comment on "The Common Core Conundrum"

  • Quidnunc says

    Who’s up for a Progressive road trip to Columbus??

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