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Understanding the Common Core

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Connecticut Common Core: Often criticized, rarely understood

You may have heard an increasing amount of buzz in Connecticut schools related to the Common Core. And, you may be worried that everyone else understands the purpose and plan of the Common Core, stifling you from raising any questions and causing you to feel out of touch as a parent. Nothing could further from the truth. The Common Core has created massive confusion for almost everyone outside the school system and significant confusion even among educators.

If you have heard about the Common Core, your knowledge likely emanated from complaints. My intention, here, is to help parents understand the basics of the Common Core, not debate the issue of its implementation.

Why We Do Have The Common Core?

The Common Core developed in response to underperforming American students on international tests. While there was disagreement as to whom or what created the decline, there was widespread agreement across both political and philosophical spectrums that our education system was in desperate need of repair.

Why Are People Complaining About The Common Core?

Ironically, there is now widespread opposition across both political and philosophical spectrums about the proposed solution to the problem of our failing education system. The following is an overgeneralization but for simplicity sake: Liberals do not like the Common Core because of its emphasis on the need for teachers to stay distinctly within the Common Core’s parameters, and due to its focus on testing. Conservatives oppose the Common Core because it seems like one more area where the government is attempting to control the lives of its citizens.

How Do Supporters of the Common Core Respond?

In response to conservatives, the Common Core is actually a state, not a federal, initiative. So, those who are automatically opposed to anything the federal government does can shift their anger towards their Governors and state legislators as they actually control whether each state will adopt the Common Core.

In response to liberals, one of the main goals is to ensure that all Americans, not just those from wealthy places like Connecticut are held to high education standards.

In response to all Americans, one of the main goals is to ensure that the American workforce will be able to compete effectively against international competition.

Why Are Parents So Angry?

The Common Core’s standards are far more rigorous. Higher levels of reading, writing, and mathematics are demanded at every level. This has made children frustrated that they are not performing as well as they did in previous years. In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that students have far more homework.

Some of the Common Core’s standards are being taught in methods unfamiliar to parents. The unfamiliarity of the methods makes it difficult for parents to help their children. In addition, when many parents get their first glimpse of the new methods, without an accompanying discussion on why these new methods are considered better, their typical reaction is negative.

What Can You Do?

This is not an article about fighting the implementation of The Common Core. If that’s what you would like to do, get involved in state politics.

If your intention is to help your children do well academically, then you should learn everything possible about the Common Core’s standards and methods of teaching in order to ensure that your children can effectively deal with this new education reality.