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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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Texas opts out of adopting California’s Common Core


In the past few years, you’ve probably seen some sort of documentation of how terrible American public schools are. From the documentary “Waiting for Superman” to the frequent 60 Minutes coverage, it’s easy to get the idea that American students aren’t learning anything and are all about to drop out.

I have a problem with this picture, though. I went to an American public school, and while my judgmental self could certainly see room for improvement, I think I was prepared to go to college, and with a graduating class of more than 2500, I don’t think too many people dropped out.

In this dichotomy between the picture of an American education and the actual education given to many students lies the problem with our education system. Yes, in certain areas in the U.S., public schools aren’t doing so well — I’m looking at you, Chicago — but a large number of schools are turning out graduates that are ready to either go to college or join the workforce. One possible solution to the disparity between states in American public schools is to create a national curriculum.

Now, before people start accusing me of being communist, let me get some statistics out there. According to the Center for Public Education, before California instated the Common Core Educational Standards this fall, the furthest students had to progress in math in order to graduate was Algebra 1. With success in college being strongly correlated to taking Algebra 2, California’s graduation requirements were certainly lacking. Compare that to the four years of math required to graduate under Texas’ recommended graduation plan, with Algebra 2 being one of the required courses.

Furthermore, according to the Center on International Education Benchmarking, every single one of the countries with the highest-performing education systems have a national curriculum. While correlation doesn’t imply causation, maybe copying a few of the strategies used by high-performing education systems is not such a bad idea.

There are steps being taken to move toward the educational systems exemplified by top education countries like the Netherlands and South Korea. This fall, 45 states instated the Common Core, which is a set of standards that students must meet before moving on to the next grade. To all those who demean the Common Core for being “Big Government”, keep in mind that the Core is a state-led effort and was devised by the Board of Governors.

Texas is one of the states that didn’t adopt the Common Core, and it isn’t very likely that it will. Barbara Cargill, chairwoman of Texas’ State Board of Education, says there is a “0 percent chance” that Texas will adopt the Common Core.

Yes, the Common Core has problems, but the longer it’s used, the more it will adapt to fit the needs of American public schools. By choosing not to implement the Common Core, Texas alienates itself from the rest of America. This kind of behavior does nothing to improve the state of public education in America.

In order to become one of the world’s top education systems, the U.S. must emulate the world’s top education systems. The states must be united in the effort to improve America’s schools. Until all of the states are committed to working together to improve education in America on a public level, the U.S. will continue to lag behind the education systems of other industrialized countries.

Opinion columnist Emily Johnson is an English literature freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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