Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Implementing Common Core State Standards

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Implementing Common Core State Standards

Article excerpt

The George Washington University hosts the Center on Education Policy (CEP), self-described as "a national independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools." To remain unbiased and scholarly, the center has sought nearly all of its funding from charitable foundations. Among other projects they have been monitoring public education and the proposed national Common Core changes for over three years.

Since most Hispanic children go to public schools, any reforms as well as their successes - or failures - will affect those students quite directly.

A word about our educational history

History matters. It affects the present and the future. In this country the nation's educational and political establishments have long supported ingrained educational independence and harbored a distrust of government. Suspicion of state and national influence in local education decisions has always been part of America's reality. Local boards have jealously protected their turf.

One should not forget that the federal government was not compellingly involved in nationwide education policy decisions until 1957. There were a few attempts earlier but local opposition, read distrust, weakened these efforts. But in 1957 all that changed. That year the nation was stunned by the Soviet Union's successful launch of Sputnik. Fearful that we as a nation were falling behind the Soviets, Washington mobilized to recast higher education and quickly thereafter K through 12 education.

Powerful forces were opposed to such "interference." Education had always been a local matter, a fiercely protected prerogative in every state. Massive federal support and influence came about when education was wedded to national defense. It went like this: to protect the country, to counter the Soviets, the nation had to improve its education, so for the first time, The National Defense Act included funds for education.

A flood of funds flowed to universities and students. One had to have a vivid imagination, or a vested interest, to support some of the programs. The connecting line between national defense and those disciplines was wobbly and at times indecipherable. Sanskrit, ancient religious studies and many other esoteric topics all received federal funding. Many a student struggled through odd and demanding disciplines. Those who survived discovered upon graduation that many were unable to find related employment. I won't go into detafl about the scores of students who completed graduate work with federal fellowships at revered universities where they majored in Swahili and other abstruse studies. They were trained for jobs that did not exist.

All of this does not mean that federal assistance to education was useless or misdirected. Quite the contrary, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, benefitted and do so to this day.

Historically, our nation's public education system has served as a foundation and bulwark for democracy. Native born children and immigrants benefitted and became active, informed partners in crafting our democratic system. CEP is committed to public education and proclaims to help "citizens make sense of the conflicting opinions and perceptions about public education and create the conditions that will lead to better public schools."

That is a worthy goal and parenthetically, I assume, they want to offer the same opportunities to non-citizens as well.

Common Core State Standards

The center has been monitoring the implementation of the nation's Common Core State Standards (CCSS) since their inception some four years ago.

Most states are in a crucial phase of implementing the core standards. What they are? In short, they are guidelines which specify the knowledge and skills that students in grades kindergarten through 12 should acquire in mathematics and English language arts (ELA) to be prepared for college and meaningful careers. Clearly the program is of interest to Hispanics for it will affect their students. …

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