The shift to Common Core: A rushed solution?

[Marsha Sutton’s column] about our transition to Common Core educational standards leads with the observation that we now, belatedly, know students are graduating from school “without the skills and knowledge they need for success.”

It does not say whether at some point there was a falling off in previous educational standards or if the world today now requires more of young people than it did in the past. (Perhaps that question has been addressed previously.) Based on this [column], I understand only that (a) college professors and employers are objecting to the capabilities of high school graduates who nevertheless have good test scores and grades and (b) consequently, public schools are transitioning to a form of instruction “quite different” from that used previously.

I don’t know if Common Core will bring improvement but, like Ms. Sutton, I’m bewildered by the news that the old system was so bad. Her [column] uses the third person in referring to students who supposedly have been poorly educated up till now. Do those former students also include us? Do they include the professors and employers who are now complaining? In other words, do all of us have inferior educations, regardless of grades and test scores we earned in the past? If not, at what point did things change? Is this perhaps a phenomenon peculiar only to some schools or school districts? In that case, how closely does Common Core correspond with what the good schools were already doing?

Until such points are clarified, my default view is that once again central planners may have rushed to a solution without adequately defining the problem. On the other hand, central planners tend not to show interest in the views of people like me.

Stephen Gallup

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