Sam Graves is the U.S. Representative from the Sixth Congressional District of Missouri where I live. His “Straight Talk with Sam” e-magazine article for Aug. 25 was titled “Putting a Stop to Common Core.”
Sam’s article got me studying about a matter that, perhaps like many of you, I had heard a lot about but didn’t know much about. Since Sam’s against it, I figured it was time for me to learn more about it and why he, along with many other (mostly Republican) politicians, is trying to stop it.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is an educational program in the U.S. that details what K-12 students should know at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Basically, it seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college programs or to the workforce.
CCSSI establishes expectations in three academic areas: mathematics, English language arts, and literacy. The latter sets reading and writing expectations for students in social studies, science, and technology.
Implementation of Common Core started in 2010, and 45 states soon adopted it. Since then three Republican-controlled state legislatures have voted to repeal it and two others, including Missouri, have voted to review and possibly replace it.
In July, Gov. Nixon signed legislation that provides for a task force to write new education standards that could eventually replace the Common Core in Missouri.
Rep. Graves, though, wants Common Core to be replaced not only in Missouri but nationwide. But is that really necessary or desirable? Probably not.
In case Rep. Graves hasn’t noticed, the school situation in the Sixth District that he represents, and all across the nation, is much different now than it was years ago when there was considerable local control of the schools, which is what he still wants.
Many years ago, few people went to college, and those who did usually didn’t travel far to get their education. The same was for true for those who entered the workforce: most stayed fairly close to home. But things are much different now.
High school graduates now literally go to college all across the nation. Also, it is also not uncommon for people to be sent by their employers to places far away from home.
With this changed and constantly changing situation, what could be wrong with having national educational standards so a student from any part of the country would have the same math and vocabulary skills as students from any other part of the nation?
Why should it be necessary for each state to have to figure out what math and vocabulary skills they want the students in their state to acquire?
Opponents say they object to the “one size fits all” mentality. But when it comes to basic academic skills and knowledge, why does there need to be local decisions about those basics?
Regrettably, Common Core has become a political issue more than anything else. Parents across the nation were basically satisfied with it until the politicians got involved.
Now even governors who were strongly in favor of Common Core, such as Gov. Jindal of Louisiana, are opposed to it—most probably for political reasons.
Increasingly, opposition to Common Core has become a litmus test for gauging a candidate’s conservatism. Some Republicans are trying to stigmatize it by calling it Obamacore.
But sorry, Sam (and your naysaying cohorts), Common Core needs to be supported, not stopped.