For decades, teachers unions and the entrenched education establishment have ruled America’s education system, resisting needed reforms in favor of the status quo and trillions upon trillions in futile government spending. As a result, American students are falling further and further behind their peers in countries across the world as they languish in classrooms with mediocre standards and lax accountability.
The statistics are alarming. Today, only a quarter of U.S. students who graduate from high school are ready for college. U.S. students have fallen to 17th in the world in reading and 27th in math. States and students spend $3 billion annually to reteach high school classes to college kids. And, a full thirty percent of high school graduates can’t pass the U.S. military entrance exam, impacting troop recruitment, and ultimately, our national security.
The call – and need – for raising standards is not new. President Eisenhower called for clearer standards in education in response to the Russians launching Sputnik. President Reagan oversaw the landmark “Nation at Risk” report that found school standards were too low. By 2008, consensus formed among governors and chief state school officers that raising academic expectations was a shared imperative. The result was the Common Core State Standards initiative.
Common Core State Standards define a set of expectations of what students should know, understand and be able to explain in the areas of English and math at each grade level, Kindergarten through twelfth grade.
They are rigorous, streamlined, relevant, and better prepare students for college and the workforce. Common Core standards challenge students to read critically, write extensively and solve real-world math problems at greater capacity, raising the bar for all students and resulting in a more valuable education.
The standards are benchmarked to high international standards to guarantee that American students are prepared to succeed in the 21st century global economy.
They do not mandate what curriculum, including textbooks, programs or resources teachers can use in their classrooms. Those decisions are completely left to states, local districts and teachers.
Washington did not come up with idea for these new standards and the federal government was not involved in their development. This initiative began before President Obama took office. While he routinely attempts to claim credit for education reform initiatives around the country, the credit for addressing this massive challenge belongs to bold governors who understand the need to raise the quality of education in the United States.
Instead of believing some of the misinformation that has been spread, parents and others interested in the standards should take a moment to read what is actually detailed in these high and rigorous academic benchmarks. The full English and math standards can be found here.
Conservatives for Higher Standards is a project of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Founded by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the Foundation for Excellence in Education is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the nation’s leader in advancing educational excellence for every child through quality research, analysis and commentary, as well as on-the-ground action and advocacy in Ohio.