Why Educators Should Factor in the Common Core State Standards When Considering Assignment Policy Changes

Here is a letter I recently emailed to the Wake County School Board members regarding their efforts to amend the choice-based reassignment policy in Wake County, N.C.

Hello WCPSS Board Members,

I have three children in WCPSS schools: one is in high school, one is in middle school and one is in elementary school. I would like to provide you with some insight for you to consider as you direct WCPSS staff to amend the current assignment policy.

I believe the adoption of the Common Core State Standards should weigh into your decision and approach as you consider making assignment policy changes. While I support the idea of states (and counties and towns) having the right to determine how best to educate students, there are good arguments for why North Carolina should adopt a set of national proficiency standards. I’d like to suggest you read this Wall Street Journal article offering the pros and cons of adopting such national standards.

The fact is, our students are growing up in a world where, once they graduate from college, they will compete for jobs being outsourced to countries that do a better job of educating their students in key areas, such as math and science, than we are doing here in the U.S. By implementing the globally benchmarked Common Core State Standards this year, we appear to be headed in a more globally competitive direction. This is good, and Mr. Finn’s argument makes sense to me. Mr. Greene also raises very good points. I’d like to point out the following statements from both men:

“Opponents contend that different youngsters need to learn different things in different ways, and that national standards will go too far in homogenizing curriculum and standardizing instruction. I would argue that good teachers, the imaginative use of technology and widening school choice will allow for ample individualization.
Chester E. Finn

“But because schools don’t have to be completely uniform they can still experiment with different approaches and customize their efforts for the specific students they serve. It is that possibility of experimenting with different standards, assessments and curricula that allows us to learn about what does and doesn’t work and make progress. … The way to improve our students’ performance is to reinvigorate choice and competition, not stifle it.
Jay P. Greene

Mr. Finn’s thought here is that continuing to offer school choice, as the current plan does, will only enhance the benefits of adopting the CCSS. Mr. Greene also emphasizes the importance of choice and how it affects students’ performance.

If we continue to provide families with school choice, the students of WCPSS will not only meet the CCSS, but surpass them. In this way, WCPSS will ensure that in addition to competing nationally and globally, WCPSS students will experience the benefits of curriculum individualization and innovation. I hope you will consider this as you work to amend the current assignment policy and keep “choice” a key part of it.

Beth Shugg
Apex, N.C.

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