I have read all the arguments for and against Common Core for the last few months. I sat back thinking I would allow the experts to weigh in with their pros and cons and give guidance to those seeking their input. I also thought that, eventually, a strong science-based dialogue would be achieved by both groups such that a professional and ethical answer would evolve to the benefit of the children. This has not happened. All I have seen is a power struggle between advocates and opponents.
I was part of the “new math” revolution of the ’70s. I taught high school students who could not add and subtract, forget multiplying and dividing. It is this so-called “one-size-fits-all” attitude that placed so many children at risk in their education. It is this same “one-size-fits-all” theoretical nonsense that we are asking parents to accept regarding Common Core. In the ’70s, I had a vested interest in that I taught the students who were the casualties of the new math. I have a vested interest in Common Core because I have an 8-year-old who has been multiplying in his head since the age of 7 and doesn’t understand why he must perform the “dog and pony show” of Common Core. Common Core is another set of theoretical teaching ideas with no proven track record for our state. Yes, our state. It’s time we stop trying to mimic the standards of other states and develop a strategy to educate our children as to what they need to become productive. The standards may coincide with other states. It is obvious what we have been doing is not working.
As to Superintendent John White and Gov. Bobby Jindal, here is a suggestion: Why don’t we try something innovative for a change? How about trying Common Core in one of our magnet schools and one of our “failing schools” (perhaps in each of the 64 parishes)? Track the progress after one year, two years and perhaps even three years and determine whether scores improve. And perhaps even more challenging, let’s start at the entry level rather than in the middle of the child’s educational career. Let’s then compare the grades and scores with the grades and scores of other children in public schools. Are we afraid to discover that the Common Core methods may work better with one type of student than another?
I pray daily that someone somewhere will soon wake up and make the center of the controversy the children rather than their own political agendas.
Linda L. Holliday
former state judge, attorney and educator