CATHERINE DIECKMAN '17
The War Over Education
As the 2016 presidential election is finally underway, candidates have been testifying why they could be the greatest president that the US has ever seen. They travel from city to city, pleading their case, explaining their plans, and stating their perspectives on topical issues in the nation.
One of the most relevant concerns of this election is the broadening or shrinking of the Common Core Standards.
Common Core is a system that sets the same, high-quality educational criteria in Mathematics and English throughout the US. They give all teachers a specific plan that includes information that students should know by the end of each school year. This outline builds on itself and creates an equality line for academics across the nation. Currently, 42 states have adopted the standards and are funding the expansion of this program, including Ohio. For many years, the quality of education has suffered in certain parts of the US; therefore, this program’s intention is to prohibit academic inequality between those who have access to high education and those who do not.
Even though Common Core is portrayed to be a very successful, helpful program, many presidential candidates doubt its ability. Despite the fact that Common Core has its benefits, there are some disadvantages that make it seem questionable. Although these standards train students for a competitive global economy, this system includes many standardized tests and places attention on test scores rather than students succeeding in school. These additional national tests will ask students to explain what they have learned, not apply information to real-life situations. With the addition of standardized tests comes the focus on only two subjects: Mathematics and English. While these two areas are important, Science and Social Studies are two topics that these federal standards ignore. Students with particular interests in Science or History may feel discouraged or excluded from following their academic passions.
This system requires schools to make plentiful changes to their curricula so it is a difficult and time-consuming process for both teachers and students. Assistance principal, Ms. Meyer, believes that “adopting the Common Core means adopting an opportunity to achieve a national standard of education which is certainly applaudable. What makes the standards work however, is not the standards themselves, but the teachers’, parents' and schools' commitment to those standards”. As educators will have to become accustomed to a new teaching method, students will have to adapt to a different way of learning. “If a teacher is a ‘teach straight from the text, students take notes while you lecture’ or ‘read and then answer questions from text’ teacher, then it's more difficult. If the teacher poses challenging questions, engages students in classroom discussions, and encourages problem solving and critical thinking, the new approach is easier”, states Ms. Meyer.
Because these methods and techniques continue to change, the Academy’s faculty has been working to map out each and every course so that material fits the standards needs. Though this extra work is time-consuming and tedious for teachers, it is essential to continue students’ academic growth.