Let Your Voice be Heard

Monday, November 4, 2013 -- Nyla Benjamin

For decades, state academic standards have come and gone through America’s classrooms without much fanfare. I would wager that most people who don’t work in the education industry often confuse academic standards with curriculum and some were likely unaware that academic standards existed at all.  So, let’s begin by setting the record straight: standards are statements that outline the knowledge and skills students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a school year.  Curriculum is the day-to-day plan teachers use to help students acquire and hopefully master the knowledge and skills outlined in standards.  Definitions and distinctions like these, along with facts, figures, scathing accusations, and unwavering support concerning the Common Core State Standards are being aired in public hearings across the nation.

In states including Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, standing room only crowds are lining up to voice their opinions about the Common Core State Standards.  Comments from people identifying themselves as parents, educators, business people, legislators, community organization representatives, and concerned taxpayers have often waited for hours to ensure their voices are heard as a vigorous debate continues regarding the academic standards adopted in 45 states.

Recurring themes from those who oppose Common Core include concerns regarding the alleged overreach of the federal government into education policy, sharing of identifiable student data, developmentally inappropriate expectations, lack of parental control, and poor implementation.

Those in favor of Common Core often refer to clearer, deeper expectations for teachers and students, national comparability, the promotion of critical thinking, rigor, relevance and relationships, and increased academic achievement with historically low-performing students.

No matter what your feelings are about Common Core, it is refreshing to see so many people passionately interested in the education of America’s students.  I encourage you to find out when public hearings and/or school-related meetings are occurring near you, and let your voice be heard. 

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