If you follow the voting records of our state’s senators and representatives who are opposed to Common Core, it’s easy to believe that they’re not educated enough to know the difference between standards and curriculum. But our Rhodes Scholar governor surely can’t claim that level of ignorance. Common Core is just a set of standards, or levels of basic competencies (developed by educators, not politicians) that outline what students should know and be able to do at particular grade levels in order to be on track for college and beyond — standards for their ability to read (and understand what they read), write, and do basic math calculations. Curriculum are the subjects taught, and topics taught within those subjects. Common Core does not dictate curriculum. Local school districts set their own curricula. They determine what and how they will teach. Nothing is being dictated by the feds.
Does Louisiana need higher academic standards? Here is the status quo that the opposition appears to be satisfied with: The Programme for International Student Assessment recently ranked American students 25th among 34 countries in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. And, a 2012 report by Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found that U.S. students aren’t progressing to catch up to their foreign peers. Students in Latvia, Chile and Brazil are making gains in academics three times faster than American students, while those in Portugal, Hong Kong, Germany, Poland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Colombia and Lithuania are improving at twice the rate. And, according to analysis by ACT, three-quarters of students entering college “were not adequately prepared academically for first-year college courses.” And, Louisiana students has been consistently at or very near the bottom of the states in student achievement for many years.
Perhaps the opposition of the those in our state who aspire to our nation’s top elected office is simply wishful political posturing. And perhaps those in opposition who really do know the difference between standards and curricula want to keep their constituents ignorant so that they will continue to reelect them.