I appreciate Mr. Guynn’s column on Common Core standards (Aug. 4, “Next public schools disaster: Common Core”). There are some legitimate concerns and a healthy debate should be had, but for us to have a serious conversation, it is important we understand the facts.
The questionable legality of Common Core is based on the idea that these standards establish a national curriculum. That is incorrect.
Common Core standards simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness. They are not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards. The Fordham Institute has carefully examined Common Core and compared it with existing state standards: It found that for most states, Common Core is a great improvement with regard to rigor and cohesiveness. In fact, some states that have rejected Common Core (Texas, to name one example) have standards significantly below Common Core suggestions.
It is important to remember standards establish a “bottom floor” for educational curricula, not a ceiling. It is true that Common Core does not require or include the instruction of cursive writing, but that does not mean a school is prohibited from implementing such coursework.
It is true that some corporate interests had a hand in funding some of the institutions that contributed to the development of Common Core, specifically the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
However, the process was started in 2009 and also included scholarly research; surveys on what skills are required of students entering college and workforce training programs; assessment data identifying college and career-ready performance, comparisons to standards from high-performing states and nations, and National Assessment of Educational Progress frameworks in reading and writing for English language arts; and findings from Trends in International Mathematics and Science and other studies concluding that the traditional mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement.