14 Nov

Common Core in Texas

We all know that it’s important for our children to be adequately educated so they can compete in the world job market once they’re adults. The Common Core Standards are a set of educational guidelines established by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) along with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). These guidelines define the specific knowledge a student needs to acquire in order to graduate or be promoted to the next grade. Although it is completely voluntary, these universal standards have already been implemented in many states to ensure that students all over the country are on the same educational track and ready for employment or college once high school graduation comes around. While a number of states have already adopted the Common Core Standards, there are indeed some states that have decided not to follow these recommended educational guidelines. Along with Nebraska, Virginia and Alaska, the state of Texas also rejected the adoption of Common Core.

 

In May of 2013 the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 462, which prohibits any public school district in the state from adopting the Common Core Standards. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of rejecting the standards with a total of 140 voting for the bill, 2 “Nays” and 2 non-votes. The new law later went into effect on September 1, 2013 and the decision not to adopt the Common Core Standards in Texas has left many of the state’s educators, parents and politicians at odds. This may be because there are many people who seem to be misinformed about the facts.

 

Some Texas legislators have expressed that they believe the standards are intentionally set low to accommodate students nationwide, while others don’t want Texas students to get left behind. There are also teacher organizations that have united to display their dissatisfaction with the possibility of having to teach according to standards set by the federal government and not locally. Contrary to what some may believe, the Common Core Standards are not a curriculum at all and they are not overseen or governed by the federal government. The implementation of these standards is actually left up to the governors who are supposed to work together with the CCSSO and NGA to ensure every student is provided with a quality education. The Common Core Standards also do not specify what and how a teacher teaches, as they are only a set of benchmarks and educational goals a child needs to reach each year.

 

There are quite a few reasons why so many Texan leaders, such as Governor Greg Abbott, do not want to implement the Common Core Standards in school districts throughout the state. The issue is still a hot topic that has been debated by many educators, school board members, politicians and parents. If you want to learn the truth about the Common Core Standards, it’s recommended you conduct your own research. With just a quick search, you’ll realize that there is plenty of factual information available online which is based on studies and statistics.

 

25 Oct

Puerto Rico has its own Common Core Opinion

Though Common Core has been a highly controversial topic within the states, most news agencies forget that it hasn’t just been affecting them. In fact, all US territories have been offered the chance to adopt these new educational standards, including Guam, the American Samoan Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Of these territories, it’s Puerto Rico that has resisted adoption entirely, joining the ranks of Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma.

A Failing System

The story of not adopting the standards is inextricably tied to Puerto Rico’s current failing economy. With no power to vote, the country has been nothing but a slave to American interests based on economic needs and wants. Having been abused for so long now, the country has amassed a stunning $72 million in debt worsened by the decreasing population as those that can move somewhere else, do. To put this into perspective, Puerto Rico is twice as poor as Mississippi, the poorest state, but has double the cost of living.

What does this have to do with education?

Everything.

Much like rural school systems in the states are often years behind their more affluent city counterparts, Puerto Rico is doing everything it can to stay financially afloat including slashing an already depressingly low school budget. In the face of such a budget, the last thing the country needed was to add a curriculum that would cost money the country doesn’t have to implement in accordance with US design.

Pulling Back from Education

A recent report from former IMF consultants found that if Puerto Rico where to lay off teachers, drastically cut education spending and a variety of other steps, they could begin to get the financial situation under control. However, it’s also widely recognized that a stronger economy requires a good education system in order to keep the work force strong. It’s become a catch-22 that both students and teachers are ready to protest.

Is there a solution? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer. After all, the problems are highly varied and not entirely clear themselves. The one thing they all agreed on, however, was that Common Core was not needed. To a country in their position, Common Core is a hope for a future where the educational system isn’t continually threatened by the economy.

In the end, Puerto Rico isn’t against Common Core so much as it is unable to hold debates about it. There are far more pressing matters looming on the horizon, making these standards seem trivial in light of trying to keep money in the school system. Provided financial hope can be cultivated, there may be adoption plans for the future. For now, however, the Core isn’t even important enough to spark the widespread debate seen in the states.

16 Oct

North Dakota’s stance with Common Core

When North Dakota adopted the Common Core on June 20, 2011, it signed up as one of the last states to join. However, instead of finding itself suffering from whiplash brought on by opponents, it’s managed to perform one of the few, smooth implementations of the standards. Even so, this year did see a rather strong push to have the Core taken out of the state.

Defeating the Bill

As far as Core controversy goes, North Carolina has managed to stay out of the spotlight for many years. They brought in the new standards, put them to use in the classrooms and that seemed to be the end of it. Then, in 2015, House Bill 1461 came to light, demanding the state withdraw from Common Core altogether. Interestingly enough, the Bill was actually divided into two parts.

The first, Division A, required North Dakota to withdraw from the Core’s standardized test, Smarter Balance. This section was surprisingly torn, with a final vote of 43-46, falling to defeat by only three votes. Standardized tests are never positive subjects, so it came as no big surprise to find such dissent, especially with the bad stories about Smarter Balance emerging from other states.

The second, Division B, called for the total cancellation of the standards and was defeated 89-0, proving that the state stands firmly behind the standards. In fact, legislators at the hearing cited that the majority of educators across the state stood behind a Core that was developed for the state by the input of over 130 educators from North Dakota. To the parents that would argue the standards are too hard, representatives ask them why raising the bar is such a bad thing.

Parent Opposition

In light of the defeat, upset parents have been voicing their concerns that the state just isn’t listening, citing the 1,400 petitions around the state calling for the Core’s removal. Many talk about being worried about how such changes are affecting the children. In response, lawmakers point out the absurdity of getting upset over a test that hasn’t even been given yet. In the end, though, the parents opposing it aren’t loud enough to force the legislature into overthrowing a stable system the teachers are now integrated into.
In amongst the debates flying across the nation about the validity of or unconstitutional reach of Common Core, North Dakota remains a fervent fan even in the face of a few upset parents. To their educators throughout the state, the changes have all been for the better, and they have never been more ready to implement the new standardized testing than now. So long as the standards do what they promise and North Dakota adheres to them, their future looks much brighter due to the greater educational challenge.

08 Jul

Washington: Dedicated to Full Implementation of Common Core Standards

Though proudly standing as one of the most liberal states after only California, Washington has seen relatively little debate regarding Common Core implementation. Whether it’s because one of the biggest financial backers, Bill Gates, resides in the state or it was implemented as smoothly as it was in Montana, the only real opposition has occurred as a result of the snags that come with new, untested systems. Since July 20, 2011, Washington has turned out to be a strong supporter of the Core.

The Big Question—Testing

Though adopted a year later than most, Washington stuck by its ambition for full implementation by the 2014-15 school year. What this meant for the state was nothing hard. Teachers were very much on board with the change and have shown positive reactions to the increased challenge given to students. In truth, the only problem that’s plagued Washington educators has been the looming standardized test, known as Smarter Balanced.

Opponents stand against it because of the data showing no correlation between a student’s capability to succeed after graduation and the standardized test scores they are judged by when applying for colleges. Unfortunately, at the current moment, these scores are the only way to tell if standards are working or not.

To make this transition easier, Washington officials decided to forego the route taken by New Jersey and Idaho, that is to completely hold off the new exam altogether. Instead, the plan was to include the test alongside the other standardized exams as a way to acclimatize students to the new, technologically driven future. On top of this, the test would not make or break a student’s ability to graduate.

The Pause Button

With all that having been debated, in May, officials nonetheless spoke out against the Common Core test results. School chief Randy Dorn publically pleaded with the government to pause the test scores. On March 31, Dorn issued a waiver that would allow the scores to be published but would protect all Washington schools from suffering any kind of federal punishment should the scores be less than good.

The argument behind this is sound enough. It’s a new, tougher system, and both the kids and teachers need time to adjust professionally to meet the standards asked of them. The government would still be able to make recommendations as to how to improve those schools that fared the worst, but no other repercussions could be taken, like when the state lost some $40 million in federal aid money in 2014 for slights made against the No Child Left Behind Act.

Even though the test results loom large in everyone’s minds with the school season officially over, it is merely a small concern in the grand scope of issues the Common Core has faced. With such restricted opposition, educators have been able to dedicate ample time and resources toward making it work to the state’s advantage.