What is the Common Core?
The Common Core bill has lost some attention, but it is still a relatively new piece of legislature, and definitely one that we minors need to know more about. The Common Core is made to iron out the differences between state education. Currently, each state decides for itself the best way to teach its children, with no federal intervention. However, some of the problems are in standardized testing. A proficient score in reading for a Massachusetts student is not necessarily the same as proficient for a Montana student. If standards are set too low in a state, then students may think that they are successful while in reality they are sub-par in comparison to the rest of the country. The new bill will set national standards, so students are actually prepared for real world expectations. Fortunately, experts persist in saying that the Common Core is NOT a curriculum, so teachers can still teach the way they want to.
But there are still hesitations. Despite the experts pressing that it is not a fixed curriculum, it is a fixed test. The teachers are going to be pressured to teach strictly to the test, and that may limit the variety of things a student can learn. Another low point is that reading standards are taking a huge turn. Not for the worse, per se, but not necessarily for the better. Reading standards in the Common Core dictate that informational reading, nonfiction such as newspapers and other articles, will take up half of elementary school curriculum and about 70% of 12th grade English class. At first glance, this may appear like a great idea. After all, with all of these movies and video games, it is an easy argument to say that youth are too invested in fictional stories and no learning is done. And I can agree with that to an extent. But informational reading is plain boring, especially to any elementary school student. The fear that many concerned teachers and parents have is that these early on informational reading requirements will start driving children away from reading from an early age. They could grow to despise reading, and they might not even attempt books for fun, not even poetry or any good classic novels. More problems lie with the teachers and how they feel. Many are frustrated by how the men writing this bill is not in a classroom and do not understand the difficulty of getting students to participate, and adding more complex skills included in the Core are not going to help. The standardized tests are going to standardize teaching, and keeping up with the rigorous demands are going to leech off their creativity (especially with the reading).
Unfortunately, it is very hard to decide whether the Common Core Bill will be good or bad for America as a whole. Seeing the benefits in national standardized testing is easy to see, but difficulties with teacher support and student opinion make this a heavily debated topic. Because we need to deal with politicians in this country, you most likely have to experience at least some of the change in your schooling. Ask your teachers what they think! Ask your parents what their opinion is. Write a letter to your local senator and tell them about how the bill is working and what is good about it, or what needs changing. And please tell us what you think at MinorsVote.com.