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Why are we afraid of Common Core?

Many states, including North Carolina, have decided to question their earlier decisions to use the Common Core State Standards. Why are state leaders - mostly politicians - questioning the validity of Common Core? This question is especially relevant, not to mention puzzling, since the decision to use Common Core was sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. In other words, it was a non-partisan initiative.

Some are arguing that the required curriculum and tests that come with Common Core are cost prohibitive. Others, however, are being honest; they simply believe that the federal government is encroaching on their right to determine the future of public school education. They even invoke the logic that the U.S. Constitution does not address education, which means that the individual states are responsible for determining how and what their students will learn. It was the same logic that kept our schools racially segregated for so long, and if it wasn't for the federal government's involvement, separate but equal would still be the law of the day.

Common Core State Standards will likely reveal the inadequacies of many public school systems - primarily because they are much tougher that most state academic standards. In part, this is why many states would like to revert back to the old methods of accountability. They fear that their failed educational programs will be exposed.

It is time to put our petty differences and fears aside. We need to understand that higher academic standards, supported by strict accountability, are necessary if we want to maintain and improve our global competitiveness. Many policy makers and educators would like to have us believe that our educational system is not as bad as we think - unfortunately, the research will not support this contention. Common standards will not only raise the bar for all students but it will also make it possible for our schools to work more closely together - across state lines - in an effort to make valuable and necessary improvements. Many educators have touted the success of professional learning communities (PLC) within their schools - whereby teachers learn to collaborate and work as a team. Common Core offers our school systems with a wonderful opportunity to create the same concept at the national level. It is a step in the right direction.

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