Beth Vest
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Common Core: Reform?

This raises more questions than it answers. Why do we suddenly need uniform standards for students to attend college? Students have been attending out-of-state colleges for generations, with the only hindrance being money, not the students educational background. When I applied to college in 2005/2006, all anyone wanted were my test scores and high school transcript proving my grade point average. I should mention that, as an army brat, I never attended any pre-college school in Louisiana, and had no trouble being accepted to a Louisiana university. For graduate school, they wanted my college transcript proving my grade point average. I understand state-side grad programs want further test scores (I went over-seas), but that is unrelated to K-12 education (and you can get study guides for them at any bookstore, so don't tell me we need to muck around with our public schools for the sake of GRE scores). Sometimes colleges want more from applicants, like essays or statements of intent; but again, this is not worth a reform movement.

 

As for careers: It is impossible for the behemoth bureaucracy that is any one state education system to predict what students will need to be successful in the workforce. The workforce changes continually (especially the technology fields), and work forces/economies are not things that can be summarized or viewed at a national level. What the California workforce needs is not what the Louisiana workforce needs!  <br />


In addition, our educational institutes are prone to fads, usually manifesting in two ways. The first is by grabbing on to whatever is popular in the current generation, and treating it like gospel. Take the Work smarter, not harder! mantra, which has been force-fed to the last few generations. We were told a four-year degree isn't just the ticket to success, it was the only way (unless you invent and patent something). We are now reaping the rewards of that tactic: thousands of post-grads are in debt and unemployed, meanwhile, the trades are suffering from a tremendous skills/labor gap. Also, the technology in schools movement today, kids are no longer capable of learning without access to technology (preferably something with an apple on it). Don't even get me started on whole reading.


The second way we see play out every election cycle. Not content with leaving kids alone to explore on their own, every new crop of politicians is convinced there is a better way to factory produce educated citizens. Today it's CCSS, last time it was No Child Left Behind, before that Improving America's Schools. It seems as if each administration has the cure for what ails institutional schools. There is nothing new or exciting about CCSS, it's just more of the same; blanket standards and testing. The uniformity of it all is a wet dream for control freak data-gatherers, who desperately want to know exactly what is going on in every classroom;and that is the only reason any of this is happening. I've read somewhere that a Puritan is a person afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun. A bureaucrat is a person afraid that someone, somewhere, is going unsupervised and undocumented.


And all of that only deals with one facet of education. We haven't even addressed children's needs and wants! Let's assume economic trends are more predictable and reliable than reality demonstrates. How do we determine where each individual student will steer his or her life? Remember, there are at least fifty million school-age children in the States. Will our teachers, who struggle with classroom sizes already, track the progress, curiosity, talents, and goals of each child they come across? And then pass those notes on to the next grade's teacher? What if the student goes into high school with one career in mind, only to realize a different path is better?


Really, the closest to blanket standards anyone can honestly suggest are literacy, proficiency in arithmetic and pre-algebra, and a basic understanding of the sciences. There's a reason one-size-fits-all is rejected in many retail settings-why on earth would we accept it for education?
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