Nelson: Common Core is step in the right direction toward providing higher quality learning - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Nelson: Common Core is step in the right direction toward providing higher quality learning

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Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013 4:05 pm

Don Kennedy’s commentary regarding Arizona’s adoption of Common Core Standards and Medicaid Expansion (“Will our political beliefs bankrupt us?” June 30, AFN) are a classic example of using fear to prevent positive change. He goes so far as to invoke the names of Hitler and Lenin to make his “point.”

I believe Ahwatukee residents are smart enough to realize his tactics do nothing but promote a “sky is falling” mentality.

Let’s correct some facts. Common Core is not a government conspiracy to “indoctrinate students to think any way it wants.” Nor it is a curriculum; it is a set of standards that was created by teachers from across the country, including Arizona, as a way to standardize what is expected at each grade level. The specific curriculum used is still controlled at the local level. When my children were growing up, we moved every two years (my ex-husband was an Army officer). It was amazing to me how grade level content varied between states and school districts. My kids missed some key concepts because they moved from a district which did not cover them until a future time to one that had already completed that concept. It was a terrible struggle trying to figure out what they missed.

Another shift with Common Core is away from rote memorizations of facts to the development of “thinking skills.” When presented with a situation or task, students must use the knowledge and skills they have learned to communicate and justify solutions. For example, students will learn to pick out the ridiculous assertions and present a fact-based case and a practical solution. Plenty of people have complained that the school system is broken, including Mr. Kennedy (“What do you expect in 2013?” Jan. 5, AFN). Common Core is a step in the right direction toward providing a higher quality of learning. I don’t see Mr. Kennedy with any better suggestions — just more fear mongering. 

I, for one, applauded Gov. Brewer, Sen. McComish and our legislators for doing the right thing for students.

• Lynette Nelson has a master’s degree in education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado. She has been an Ahwatukee resident since 2010.

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