The United States is in the process of implementing a countrywide system of educational standards called the Common Core. It determines the reading and math skills that all students should reach at each grade, from kindergarten through high school. The standards aim to implement the education that students need to succeed in today’s world. The Common Core has received a lot of criticism, especially from states that oppose federal power, but a closer look at their complaints shows that they do not justly reflect the Common Core’s spirit.
Opponents strongly argue that the Common Core will take away the rights of parents, the local community and the state to decide what children will learn. But the Common Core does not establish inflexible and permanent daily agendas that teachers must follow. Instead, it provides a curriculum that demands certain guidelines to be met. For instance, the new standards determine that first-grade students must learn addition and subtraction in math class, but not how or exactly when in the year. Educators are free to employ their own educational approaches to achieve the best results, as long as they cover topics that every student in America should learn.
Another common mistake is to claim that the new standards will hurt students and teachers by imposing an education system that treats all students the same way and leaves educators with no control over their classes. The Common Core does treat every student the same, but with the purpose of providing every one of them with the same quality of education. But teaching every student the same core material does not mean using the same teaching methods for every single student. The Common Core allows teachers to cover less material in one year, leaving more space for directed learning, alternative and creative approaches to teaching a subject. This surely gives teachers more time to spend on helping students to think critically about the topic of study, rather than use a main method of teaching with all students, for lack of time, in order to quickly move on.
As for every new implementation, there is room for improvement in the new Common Core standards system. For instance, it focuses more on teaching students nonfiction than literature, which can be detrimental to students’ understanding of their world from a literary stance and to the enhancement of their writing and critical thinking skills. Still, the Common Core provides more benefits than losses and can only be truly improved on after having being put to practice. Equal education to all Americans is good education.
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