Political Focus: Common Core


Political Focus

Melissa Deatsch

What’s the issue? 

The Common Core standards have been a highly contested topic on the 2016 campaign trail by many of the Republicans.  In the March 10 Republican Primary debate, Common Core was discussed once again amongst the candidates. 

According to Politifact, the Common Core State Standards are a set of standards in English and Math developed by state education groups and nonprofits with input from teachers, parents and education experts to ensure that every student in the US was learning the same thing in school. 

42 states have since agreed to use Common Core and the federal government has no control over the implementation process.  States are free to set their own curriculum. 

These standards have not been entirely well-received by educators and parents.  

What are the sides?

Only one Republican supported Common Core standards during Thursday’s debate despite the way CNN’s Jake Tapper presented the question.

“The Common Core standards were developed by the states, states and localities voluntarily adopt them, and they come up with their own curriculum to meet those standards,” Tapper noted. 

Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz voiced their major issues with Common Core with Trump calling the standards “Education through Washington, D.C.” and Ted Cruz noting his plan to end Common Core. 

“Common Core is a disaster.  And if I am elected president, in the first days as president, I will direct the Department of Education that Common Core ends that day.”

Trump’s point of education coming from Washington D.C. is a big area of concern for many people.  Though Tapper is right, the Common Core standards are voluntarily adopted, he didn’t mention the race-to-the-top funds that encouraged states to adopt common core and rewarded them with federal funding if they did. 

Since Common Core has been adopted, many teachers have taken issue with the lack of creativity the standards allow.  Teachers feel there are too many standards that need to be met and it takes away the flexibility in the their lesson plans.  They are unable to enhance the learning experience by delving into one topic because there simply isn’t enough time to do so and reach all the Common Core standards.

On the other side of the debate for the Republicans is candidate John Kasich. 

“Well, look, all I’m in favor of in Ohio is high standards,” Kasich said.

Kasich went on to explain that in Ohio, where he is governor, the state school board set the standards and the local school boards develop of the curriculum.  He finished by clarifying he supports common core when implemented with local control and high state standards. 

Why should you care?

The goal of the Common Core State Standards was to tackle the glaring educational issues in our country.  As Tapper noted in the debate, American students currently rank 27th out of 34 in Math and 17th in Reading.  

Common Core’s goal is ensure students are ready for the college level work and their careers throughout the entire country.  Their hope is that it doesn’t matter where you live. You’ll get a great education.  

Whether Common Core’s strategy is the best way to tackle the problem is only where the debate begins.  Does Common Core create more problems than it solves? Can we improve our education system without it?  It’s a debate worth keeping an eye on since the future of our country begins with primary and secondary education.