The Common Core Curriculum initiative in education
There is a new wave of change to our educational system which is sparking some concerns by those opposing this new initiative. The initiative has been labeled as common core curriculum. The effort seems to be around obtaining federal funds for the race to the top initiative from the Department of Education. While the approach seems to be a worthy one the process to achieve the objectives is raising some concerns across many states.
I am all for improving our educational system and having some consistency but creating another initiative through the Department of Education gets the federal government more involved in education. Granted the Department of Education is a great resource for schools across the country and the common core curriculum guidelines, if they are truly that gets the federal government deeper in our educational system. Some references by media sources have even voiced concerns about the system becoming politicized rather than having creativity. Our educational system is currently overwhelmed with standardized tests and the common core initiative will impose yet another set of additional tests.
Testing in our educational system and the methods used to measure the knowledge of students of all ages is in some cases lacking reliability and flexibility. While some basic subjects are identified as part of the core curriculum initiative the approach being recommended drastically changes the way teachers will teach and interact with their students. We have great teachers within our school system across the country and many have been recognized for their efforts but they need more than another initiative by which they and their schools will be measured.
Two of the subjects which at the present time on which this initiative seems to be focused is math and science. It has been reported in the media that in terms of ranking our school system in these areas we are ranked lower than other countries for which we should be leading. I understand the importance of these subjects as they can be critical to our economy especially in specific occupations.
Government should be a support function not one that appears to dictate what should be taught and how it should be taught. Some individuals may not agree with this statement but in fact government in the beginning of our country was meant to be a support function for the states. This is validated in the responsibilities identified in the Constitution. Also focusing on subjects which the government feels are important diminishes the importance of other subjects. Granted some subjects are optional in our school system where students can choose to take courses outside the basic curriculum which interests them. This is how it should be. Some may wonder how this initiative got started and there are varying opinions as to how it began. One thing is clear the impact of this action by the federal government and the federal government is involved with this initiative in promising federal funds to states if they adopt this program.
The wide adoption of the core curriculum philosophy by 45 out of the 50 states raises questions as to why it is so widely accepted. One state in particular which has not formally adopted this philosophy is the state of Texas which has the largest school system in the United States. I do not have any insight as to why Texas has not adopted this initiative but they must have their reasons.
To get into more detail as to the subjects the core curriculum initiative addresses the following general areas have been identified within this initiative and are listed below:
- English language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical subjects including cursive and keyboarding.
- Speaking and Listening
- Media and Technology
Mathematics also appears to be strongly focused. Our schools have seen individuals from foreign countries come to the United States to earn their degrees in whatever subject interests them and they then return to their own country for the most part. I am all for improving our educational system but the focus needs to be at the local and state levels in determining what needs to be taught in a classroom.
One of the purposes of this initiative appears to be to aid students to be properly prepared for college if they so choose to go and to prepare them for the workplace. Both of these purposes are commendable but the question to be answered is who determines what subjects or content will prepare students for college or the workplace. While preparing students as identified in the preceding sentence it is also important to put some emphasis on the history of our country and the principles of the Constitution. These subject areas appear to be either lacking or ignored in the in the basic curriculum identified in this initiative. Students need to learn about the true history of our country and the events which occurred from its beginning to now without having political correctness being involved. Students also need to understand the Constitution as it is written and the rights guaranteed within it to understand the basic concept of government as created by our founding fathers.
In all of the information identified in this article and in the content of the core curriculum initiative there is no mention as to who will dictate the content of textbooks. Textbooks are the key to any initiative within the education system. In another aspect there also appears to be no substantial data which shows this kind of approach to education is the right approach or will be successful.
While presently wide support among the states for this initiative there are also organizations and efforts in some state legislatures to repeal the use of the common core initiative. It is also not understood as to who made the decision in the respective states to adopt this method of teaching in our schools. Decisions of this nature affecting not only individual states but across the country need to have those individuals responsible within the states to make these kinds of decisions in coordination with the legislature.
There is no doubt that our educational system needs to be tweaked to prepare students for college and/or the workplace. Each school system and each state have different requirements to satisfy the needs of businesses within their state which may not match other states. Again one size fits all does not work in a country such as ours with the number of nationalities of our citizens. In all it must be mentioned that those who teach sometimes presents their viewpoints on certain subjects or issues which may not be aligned with providing all positions so students can think for themselves. Some may even feel this is an act of brainwashing which may or may not be factual. Any initiative to change the focus and content on what is taught in our schools at any level is wrong regardless of the source of the initiative. Students today need to be able to think for themselves and determine their positions on the issues. They will need this capability not only if they choose to go to college but also in the workplace.
I have not touched on all the aspects or impact of this core curriculum initiative as there is much to be found when searching the Internet from both sides of the initiative. The information can be confusing and/or is lacking details of the approach or specific subjects which will be taught under the general topics identified. One thing is clear schools/states which adopt this approach to education will potentially receive government funds but this only will take place if the government likes what the schools/states are doing. Basically it will be the opinion of government whether the actions meet the criteria of the initiative to warrant funds being provided.