The Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954 was a defining moment in the history of the United States. This Supreme Court decision made the segregation of schools by race illegal, but the equality of schools is something that has not been widely seen throughout the history of education. An attempt at creating equality, known as the Common Core standards, was released in 2010, and has been adopted by 45 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Proponents of this policy claim that these standards will move American education towards the equality that was the goal of this legislation, 60 years later, but others fear that these standards will cause damage to school systems.
The Common Core System
The Common Core testing standards were created as a means to ensure that all children, regardless of socioeconomic or racial background, would receive the same standards of education within the public school system. This system is designed to help students develop necessary skills for success in college and the workforce of America. Within this system, skill levels are specifically developed for each grade, with each successive grade building upon the skills that are developed in the grades previous.
For English comprehension, the standards are based upon the difficulty of literature that is presented to students, which includes classical and current literature. Writing evaluations begin in the early grades with opinions pieces, and gradually develop students’ skills in the research aspect of composition. The math section focuses on developing the understanding of the concepts involved, rather than the basic formulas, in an effort to promote the retention of information among students.
Proponents of the System
Those who agree with the Common Core system of education argue that the tests and concepts offer consistent and clear explanations of what is required of students to succeed. They believe that the Common Core program may be leading to a point in the history of education in America where equality of schooling will be shared among all socioeconomic brackets, 60 years later than when the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling was overturned. It is argued that, while the tests involved in the Common Core system are more rigorous than those that have been used previously in public school standardized tests, they also provide a more solid foundation for children to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the real world.
These skills needed for the workforce and in college are argued to be based off of abstract thought processes, which require an understanding of why, as opposed to how, certain concepts and formulas work in the way that they do. Proponents of this movement argue that understanding the abstract concepts behind mathematical operations and literary works gives children a better understanding of how these lessons can be used in the collegiate world and workforce.
Opponents of the System
Opponents to the Common Core system believe that it narrows the scope of education that students are exposed to into two main topics – English and math. One piece of information that is cited by this group is the No Child Left Behind Act, which imposed mandatory, standardized tests on all public schools in the United States. If the performance of students at a certain school was determined to be unsatisfactory, then sanctions were imposed upon the staff. The knowledge of these terms led to instances of cheating and score manipulation in several states and districts, including New York and the District of Colombia. Another argument against this form of education is that it leads school systems to ignore subjects other than English and mathematics, leaving history, art, science, and others without funding. Those who do not believe that the Common Core standards are beneficial note that the material is so difficult that most parents have difficulties helping their children with it, and worry that schools may be overloading young children with complicated concepts.
The Brown v. Board of Education decision took the segregation out of school systems, and 60 years later, the Common Core is attempting to bring schools to equality in terms of the caliber of schooling that they provide. Despite what opponents to this system have said, most of the United States school systems have adopted this as the new style of education.
By Joseph Chisarick