Having seen firsthand how increased rigor and standards have driven our children to greater heights academically, we stand united in the premise that Louisiana’s children need higher standards. For years, Louisiana has been ranked near or at the bottom of most national rankings related to academic attainment and graduation rates. Common Core state standards seem to be the antidote to help move our children forward — particularly children of color.
The achievement levels of black and brown students, especially those burdened with the economic and social disadvantages of poverty, are falling further behind their white peers, even as our nation loses ground globally.
This is a recipe for economic and social disaster that can be avoided if we make closing the achievement gap a national priority, guided by a commitment to a common set of principles. Louisiana is among the 45 states that have made this commitment and we must keep the promise that we made to grant every child access to a world class education.
Nationally, the Urban League and the Black Alliance for Educational Options both support this transformative learning initiative. According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress study, the reading gap for eighth-grade black students compared with their white peers nationally decreased from 32 points to 27 points from 1992 to 2007, while in Louisiana the gap remained virtually unchanged over this same time period at 26 points.
However, the gap between black students in Louisiana and black students nationally increased by 6 points. We all should be incensed at the clear disparity in our ability as a country and a state to adequately prepare our children academically.
Black, low-income and working-class families are often located in communities where student learning is slowed by inequitable resources and low expectations. Consequently, it is our families who will benefit from Common Core, as it holds all public schools to the same high standards.
It is imperative that schools prepare all students for the challenges of a 21st century economy that relies on education, innovation, critical thinking and technology.
The Common Core State Standards will help equip parents with knowledge about what their child should be learning, regardless of which state they live, and provide a reliable yardstick with which to measure progress. That knowledge will allow parents to hold schools accountable for providing high-quality instruction aligned with the standards to prepare their children for college or career.
For the Urban League, education is the civil rights issue of our time. This belief aligns with BAEO’s that our children are intelligent and talented. Both the Urban League and BAEO know that ALL kids can learn, meet and exceed the high bar that Common Core sets for them.
president and CEO, Urban League of Greater New Orleans
Louisiana state director Black Alliance for Educational Options