As a one-liner in a sitcom, the statement, “When you have two teachers and a dad who has four college degrees all struggling to help out with elementary school homework, something is wrong” would be followed by explosive canned laughter. On the front page of The Advocate in an article about Common Core, it is testimony to the writer’s sense of “tongue in cheek.”

Of course, something is terribly wrong! But it has nothing to do with the establishment of common standards in education. We should ask ourselves what kind of education these two teachers and dad received? Apparently, their education did not provide them with the sufficient core of knowledge to do elementary school homework. Therein lies the problem. The investment of time and money in their respective education failed to pay off on a most basic level: the ability to perpetuate knowledge across generations. We should make every attempt not to let this happen again. We must give our current youth an education of significantly higher quality at levels that are consistent throughout the entire nation. And our standards must be competitive or, preferably, surpass the educational standards of the rest of the industrialized world.

Next to health, education is the most important asset each of us should have an opportunity to own. Its price tag is persuasive evidence of its perceived economic value. Yet on many levels and for myriad of reasons, we don’t get what we pay for. Education should make us into individuals who can compete across state and national borders as students of any age, or as members of the workforce. To achieve this, we must create and enforce standards.

As a wise man once said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Thomas M. Bayer

retired professor

New Orleans