Gov. Matt Bevin has promised to dismantle Common Core, but that would be a huge mistake for Kentucky’s youth. Since its implementation in 2010, Kentucky has shown marked educational improvement.
Common Core is not a federal government program. It was initiated by a bipartisan coalition and developed by educational experts, considering international benchmarks. Each state chooses whether to adopt the standards.
Common Core is not a curriculum; it’s a checklist of clear educational standards for what students should know and be able to do at every grade level, and it only covers language arts and math.
Kentucky adopted those standards in 2010 and, with the addition of science benchmarks, created the Kentucky Academic Standards. Common Core raised the bar on education in Kentucky, to better prepare students for college and the work world.
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Sample test questions (www.education.ky.gov/AA/items) reveal that there is far less focus on rote memorization and more emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving.
Common Core also utilizes real-world applications and emphasizes writing and communication skills, which today’s jobs demand. An oft-overlooked benefit is that uniform standards in Common Core states enable a student to move to another district and enjoy less educational disruption.
It is misleading to argue that we need to take back local control, because each state sets educational standards for local municipalities. Common Core hasn’t changed that. Local districts determine the curriculum and may raise standards, and individual teachers choose the lessons and materials to implement the standards — not the state.
A Harvard study ranked Kentucky eighth in student performance improvement in the last two decades. ACT scores have improved by almost a whole point; and Kentucky has seen a 120 percent improvement in Advanced Placement course scores over five years.
In recent years, various state education rankings have put Kentucky between 17 and 10 — a vast improvement from the low 40s that plagued the state two decades ago.
Common Core is more rigorous than many Kentuckians are used to. Is that a bad thing? Should we then abandon the strides we’ve made and dumb down the commonwealth? That might be fine if all of our children stayed put and never left their towns to attend college or work where they might compete with better educated and smarter thinkers.
But that’s not the reality. We must prepare our kids for a future where technology reigns and more jobs will require college degrees.
Let’s talk money: Kentucky has spent millions to implement the standards and would spend millions again to replace them. And of course, a better-educated populace is better for our economy. Educated people often enjoy better health and nutrition, have a higher standard of living, and are less likely to need public assistance.
As writer Robert Orben proclaimed, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
In a survey, 88 percent of Kentucky educators and community stakeholders gave Common Core a thumbs up. Yet, Bevin wishes to eliminate it.
We have elected our legislators to represent us, not to be activist politicians, failing to listen to their constituents.
They reconvene Feb. 7. Go to www.lrc.ky.gov and www.governor.ky.gov to voice your concern, armed with the facts. To preserve the quality of Kentucky’s public education, we must keep Common Core.
Kimberly Kennedy, of Villa Hills, is a former educator and a freelance writer.