One of the bills working its way through the Legislature prohibits implementation of the Common Core standards in Arizona.
If you don’t know, Common Core is a set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade. With only a few exceptions, every state has voluntarily adopted Common Core. Here in Arizona, school districts, like Kyrene, have been working on implementing Common Core since 2010.
Common Core represents a state-led initiative to develop a set of standards for education. It is based on best practice research, and intended to reflect what will be necessary for students to succeed, whether they go on to college or pursue a trade after high school.
Not everyone is a fan. Two of the strangest political bedfellows are united in opposition to Common Core. Ultra-conservative groups are highly suspect of Common Core, viewing it as an attempt by the federal government to wrest away local control of our schools. Liberal groups, fueled by the rhetoric of anti-education reformer Diane Ravitch are highly suspect of what they see as standards that were developed with little input from educational professionals and rely too heavily on high-stakes testing.
In fact, Common Core has been given such a bad rap, that the Gov. Jan Brewer has renamed Arizona’s version of Common Core “Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards (ACCRS)”.
I support ACCRS. Is it perfect? No. Does it fix all the challenges facing education in Arizona? Absolutely not. Does it rely on having the resources to train teachers and provide them with the support they need in the classroom to succeed? Yes. Will every student be able to meet the higher standards? No. Kids who are struggling now will probably continue to struggle with ACCRS, but we should be addressing the root cause of that struggle regardless of the standards.
Granted, we chose to live in a high performing school district. Our children are blessed to be prepared and ready to learn when we send them off to school. Both kids are high performers, and in advanced placement classes. I have no problem with them being challenged to reach beyond their grasp.
But I also believe a majority of Arizona students can succeed, if given the opportunity to meet that challenge. I think we are selling our kids short when we fixate on how hard ACCRS will be for them. Recently, an online blogger wrote, “Ten Common Mistakes Parents Make.” Her point was that in our effort to be “good parents” we are hurting our kids by making things too easy for them. She cautioned, “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” I couldn’t agree more.
The road to academic achievement, and ultimately, success in the workplace and in life, will be hard and full of challenges. Shouldn’t we, as parents and community members, want to prepare our kids to meet those challenges equipped with to think critically and problem solve? I know I do.
• Rosalie Hirano is co-chair of the Keep Kyrene Strong Political Action Committee.