“In 1893 10 men met in a secret session at Columbia University in New York City until midnight debating…

 

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…what American high schools should teach. In the final report, the Committee of Ten concluded that students deserved a strong liberal arts education–in which ‘every subject [is] taught in the same way and to the same extent to every pupil so long as he pursues it, no matter what the probable destination of the pupil may be.’”¹

That was the beginning of some of the patterns of courses still in place.

Without babbling on until your eyeballs drop out about the sad state of overall achievement in too many American schools, let me–as a former teacher on nearly every level–advise you of something that’s fairly new and that 46 states have already signed in on:

Common Core State Standards

It’s address:  www.corestandards.org

What’s up?

It’s the beginning a of setting up a “new” set of standards of school achievement–on grades 1 through 12– on a national level.

KEY POINTS

• New as of about 2010.

• Though country-wide, it’s run by the states, not the feds.

• It doesn’t “dumb down” to the lowest level; actually it seeks higher standards but with fewer objectives.

• Math and English are the first subjects addressed.

• The website (above) has maps, a good Q & A, and can respond to the many questions you should ask.

If you’re concerned about what kids around you learn, this is worth looking at² (See the website above.)

Be aware, however, that the nuts and bolts of this are very controversial. Many conservatives, including former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, have challenged this initiative claiming that liberals have “hijacked” the basic concerns and have diluted the “core” by adding in their political social agenda. We believe, however, that the basic thrust of identifying a core of basic skills is a step ahead.

This is an information post, not one that advocates or rejects this information. Expect unions and many teachers, even creative ones, to automatically reject this without even seeing what it’s about. This is one attempt to address the sad conditions of many of public school systems.

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¹All the details and quoted materials here are “The New Smart Set,” by Amanda Ripley from Time (Sept. 30, 2013).

²For about 8 years I was a one of four authors for the popular elementary science text series, Science: Understanding Your Environment, published first by Silver Burdett (’70s-’80s). I’m not a stranger to public education issues.