In the debate over the Common Core Standards, it appears that most miss the central point as to why the reform is not appropriate for our schools. Common Core is not a government takeover of our schools. It is not a conspiracy to use tests to evaluate teachers. But it is a system that predetermines the failure of underfunded schools with disadvantaged students.
The same has occurred with every major reform implemented in the last 40 years: A Nation At Risk, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Why would anyone expect that the results would be different with Common Core?
Unless we provide all children with an equal opportunity to achieve the standards (beginning with early childhood education) any set of standards will differentiate between those who live under affluent conditions and those who are disadvantaged. To illustrate it in sports language, not all children can run a four-minute mile.
Similarly, not all children are equally prepared (before they enter school) to have the synaptic capacity to achieve the standards. Why not be realistic?
Concentrate our dollars and our efforts on providing an equal opportunity for all children first, then set the standards, with the possibility that all children can achieve them. To do otherwise is to ignore the differences that exist among children as they enter school and to continue to implement reforms that are destined to fail.
M. Donald Thomas
Salt Lake City
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