Reform Common Core standards

The sponsors of the program should fix the problems with our education standards.

Ronald Dixon

Common Core, the nationwide K-12 education standards established in 2010, has received plenty of criticism from educators and parents. A vast majority of states have adopted the optional state education program, which is supposed to improve English and math proficiency.

Critics say Common Core has stifled innovation and creativity by forcing a “teaching to the test” mentality. They argue that these education standards should emphasize critical thinking instead of ignoring the real problems that plague failing schools, such as poverty and budget cuts.

The math aspect of Common Core has recently been subjected to some nationwide controversy. In one example of this, some parents have been complaining that teachers under the guidance of Common Core standards assign needlessly complicated math problems. Proponents of the program claim that the new questions place a new focus on critical-thinking skills, as opposed to memorizing equations without real-world applications. Still, many students and parents have had trouble adjusting to the new standards.

Clearly there has been no shortage of complaints leveled at Common Core, and it’s so controversial that some pundits have predicted it’ll be a hot-button political issue in upcoming elections.

It’s also a problem we need to tackle locally. While Minnesota has been one of a few states to resist Common Core, it adopted Common Core’s English language arts standards in 2010 under Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Therefore, the organizations that adopted Common Core should revise its problems.

Some may say that because Common Core is not a mandated federal program, states should simply ignore it. While I do believe that states and individual school districts are the best sources for addressing their unique issues, attempting to block Common Core will, first of all, do nothing to fix the problems with the standards. Additionally, having a national benchmark is essential to compete internationally.

States also have an incentive to adopt Common Core, as the federal government grants subsidies to the schools that enhance their math and English standards.

Ignoring the program does not serve students either, so fixing Common Core is the best alternative.

First, the program should maintain basic guidelines that will keep our students competitive on the global scale. While Common Core should not mandate the specific syntax of complex math questions, the program should weed out problems and exercises that inhibit learning.

Also, the rewards for implementing Common Core have been, in some cases, counterintuitive because poorer school districts require money to upgrade their curriculums. Therefore, we should reward funding before and after schools implement reforms.

Finally, while tests are important for measuring certain forms of intelligence, schools should foster other forms, such as visual and interpersonal intelligence, which are vital to the lives of engaged citizens. In fact, universities and colleges should work with our K-12 educators to consider a variety of forms of evaluating knowledge when accepting students to their institutions.

These changes won’t be easy. But for the best interests of students, educators and parents, it’s vital that Common Core undergoes major reforms.