The Odessa Record -

"Common Core" explained


Last week we discovered that President Eisenhower’s decision to let the Russians launch a satellite first was a military-political decision; it had nothing to do with the education system in the United States, which he deemed as successful.

Since 1957, though, the claim has often been asserted that the public schools are failing the nation. Common Core was established in part to address the “failure” of the schools with a national curriculum, to create one system based on standards to hold schools accountable. Common Core is but the most recent version of the education reform movement.

One factor the National Governors Association used to create Common Core was the perception that the United States’ low scores on international tests reduced prosperity in this nation. Though this perceived claim has been discounted repeatedly, it persists even to the level of national policy (Race to the Top).

The international tests in question are 4th grade reading (PIRLS) and 4th and 8th grade math and science (TIMSS). The most recent test reports (2012) on these two measurements show that 4th and 8th graders in the United States are making statistically significant improvements with the US ranking in the top tier of nations in all but 4th grade math, where we are in the second tier.

However, because this nation is not Number One on these international tests, many make the oft-repeated and false claim that our schools are failing. According to Gerald Bracey in 2007, this country arrived at this perception “because too many people who spend little or no time in schools created too much of our educational legislation and reform policy.” Nothing has changed in the six years since this observation.

Next week, Part 3 on education and politics.

Dr. Duane Pitts is a former English teacher at Odessa High School.


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