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New York, U.S.A. — The following is being released by Rick Dalton, president and CEO, College For Every Student:
In July, more than 100 philanthropic leaders, many from America’s largest corporations, gathered in Orlando to talk about a movement that could revolutionize American education.
That effort, launched in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, would ensure uniformity in what’s taught in every classroom and what’s expected of every student nationwide. The Common Core State Standards mean the same classroom goals for all students at each grade level instead of the current educational chaos — thousands of different goals and curricula for America’s students.
Without clear, consistent standards, America’s schools will remain adrift and many of its students lost at sea. Consider the example shared at the GE Foundation Business and Education Summit in Orlando. A few years back, a Kentucky school district had 167 different mathematics curricula being taught in its 152 schools. Instead of clear goals and consistent content, there was a mathematical free-for-all. That’s what’s been happening in too many of our country’s schools for far too long.
Some argue that the Common Core Standards would discourage teacher creativity and dumb down requirements. I disagree. Identifying a set of requirements that all students could count on attaining would instead strengthen accountability and provide a clear educational map for all students.
So far 46 states have signed on and standards have already been developed for language arts and mathematics. This is a propitious moment. The nation’s two largest school unions — the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association – as well as Republicans and Democrats at the national, state and local level have pledged their support for the Common Core.
Democracy is like herding cats. We need to act while the cats are all in the same room.
Consider the consequences of not acting and maintaining the status quo. Since 1980, the educational gap between low-income students and their higher income peers has grown wider every year, as measured by standardized test scores, high school graduation, college-going and college graduation rates. Continuing on this course is the equivalent of “national suicide” as David Brooks put it in a New York Times op-ed in early July.
The Common Core Standards would level the playing field and show that low-income children matter. Those Kentucky students — and children from thousands of other school systems nationwide — would all be taught the same content in algebra and calculus, and even better, they would built the foundation in earlier grades for algebra, considered a gateway to academic rigor and college success.
When we insist on the same educational attainment from kids who grow up in our poorest communities as their peers in suburbs like Greenwich, CT, Highland Park, TX and Winnetka, IL, we usher in the New American Dream.
Consider the impact of raising scores or increasing the proportion of U.S. citizens with college degrees. AStanford University study projected that an average increase of five percent in PISA (International Student Assessment) scores would lead to a gain of nearly a trillion dollars annually in the U.S. economy. Significant increases in college attainment would have similar economic impact.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to get this right — to adopt the Common Core in all of America’s schools,” said Bob Corcoran, president and chairman of the GE Foundation, at the Orlandosummit.
Let’s not miss the moment. The Common Core has been adopted at the macro level by chief school officers, governors and other legislators. Let’s turn our attention to teachers, parents and other community leaders and get the buy-in needed at the micro level.
We all can play a role in making this happen. Here’s what you can do:
As the leader of a nonprofit that works with 20,000 low-income students in 24 states, almost every one of whom will go to college, I am committed to making sure that our children, their families and teachers are aware of the Common Core movement and the profound impact it can have on them, their schools and their communities. This New American Dream requires the support of every one of us.