Depending on what side of the debate you’re on, the Common Core State Standards Initiative either gets a gold star or a big, fat F.
You’ve probably heard of it. It’s a set of national standards for K-12 education created by a panel of experts, including governors and teachers, in 2009. There was no debate about the necessity for some kind of reform. American children had fallen far behind their counterparts in many other industrialized nations, at the time ranking 11th in reading, 25th in math and 20th in science.
The Common Core seeks to raise the bar so that all kids are getting a higher-quality education and to establish some consistency across the board, so that, for example, all kindergartners can count to 100 and all fifth graders can divide by double digits.
While it certainly got an A for effort, the implementation has been problematic. Some states and school districts complained that their teachers were not trained properly to use these complex teaching methods. Others feared that high-performing states would actually have to lower their standards to comply with the Common Core.
This program is not mandated by the federal government, but it was highly praised and endorsed by the Obama administration.
That has led some critics, like the Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, to claim the White House is unfairly pressuring states, tying funding to implementation of the Common Core.
To learn more about the issue, watch this video. Then you’ll be able to say, “Now I get it."