04 December 2012
RAISING THE BAR
In recent decades, students in American public schools and universities have fallen further and further behind students from other developed (and even developing) nations in their grasp of math and science. There is an effort afoot to remedy the situation, to fully prepare students to engage in the global community. It is called the Common Core Standards Initiative, and has been adopted by all but five of the fifty states (see map above).
The mission statement reads as follows ~ "The Common Core Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."
It is important to note that the initiative sets educational standards for skills and knowledge by providing clear goals for "a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state". It remains up to teachers and school districts to build the best lessons and learning environments to attain the recommended knowledge and skills.
In a segment on last night's PBS Newshour. Jeffrey Brown interviewed administrators and teachers in Chicago's public schools, where measurable improvement has already been attained. On balance, the news is positive, and encouraging to this former teacher. Every child on Earth deserves a high quality education. Only by adopting rigorous standards for both students and teachers can we achieve that goal. Nations like Denmark and Finland produce students who excel in school ~ partly because they do maintain high standards, and partly because in those countries, teachers are accorded the prestige and salary reserved for doctors in this country. It only makes sense ~ offer generous pay, and competition will be fierce for those positions. Schools can hire the best of the best teachers.
It may take a small revolution in restructuring our nation's spending priorities away from military adventures and runaway consumerism, starting with voters and spreading to our political leaders. The CCSI is a step in the right direction ~ "robust and relevant". I like that.