01 Apr Why We Need Common Core Standards
I’m the fourth child in a family of six, and as my family grew and changed, we found ourselves making several moves across the state of Maryland. I was blessed to attend some very high quality private schools, but I also had my experience with the public school system, where I spent roughly half of my education.
We want to believe that there is equality in the school system, and that all children with a hunger for knowledge and the will to work hard will find a community with the resources and ability to support them academically. However, what I found when I moved from school to school, was that all education is not equal. I would find myself in one school, working hard and doing everything I could to master the material, only to move with my family into a different district and find that what I had been learning was three months behind. And this was in the same state—I can only imagine what the situation would have been if my family had moved across the country.
Though this was frustrating and discouraging, I did indeed have a desire to learn and was fortunate enough to have a family that taught me the value of hard work and the importance of education. The reality is that many students cannot claim similar circumstances. They may find that when economic circumstances require them to attend a school with fewer resources and different standards, there is no safety net of inspired teachers and encouraging family members to remind them of why graduation is important.
The work of improving parents and communities and increasing resources to schools is important and difficult and the challenges are complex. But whenever there is an opportunity to make it easier for students to achieve, we should take it. If the Common Core Standards had been implemented when I was a student, there would have been no confusion or frustration as I entered a classroom and realized what I had been learning was practically a grade behind. More than being upset that I would have to work even harder because I now was in a school with better resources, I thought about all of the students in other parts of the city that would continue on the same path I had been on, not realizing that because they lacked the money, far less was being asked of them.
By only asking the most of students who already have the social and economic circumstances that assure success, we are reinforcing paths that allow a child’s zip code to determine their whole life. How can any see this as fair? Or truly think it encompasses what it means to be a student in America? We should hold every child to standards that will guarantee they are college and career ready. Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because the income inequality, poverty, and high unemployment we see today are the results of what happen when we don’t.