Parents:please don’t be afraid of the common core. It’s more than its cracked up to be

Pictures like this have been flooding my facebook feed, and I’m really confused about why.

This is: One Average Teacher’s Thoughts on the Rigor of the Common Core

Lately, I have heard a ton of negative stuff about the common core. People are ready to pull their kids from schools because kindergartners have homework. Parents don’t know how to do the math that fifth graders are being asked to do, and they don’t understand why kids are moving at a faster pace in science class than they did three years ago.

To be fair, Newsweek recently ranked Massachusetts #1 in the nation for secondary schools, and if Massachusetts was a country, Forbes says that we’d be #9 in the world. But to be honest, the district I’m in scores somewhere in the middle of the sate; it is an average school in a great state.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Kids in my classroom are competing with others from their graduating class across the country to get into college. There will be over 50.1 million kids in Jasper’s graduating class in America. He’ll be competing against all of them for a spot at Harvard or UMASS. Being an A student at a school, even one in Massachusetts, won’t make him a stand-out college applicant.

Then, he’ll be competing against the entire world when its time to get a job.That’s because today’s job market is a global one, and with the evolution of technology, he’ll be competing against the kids from China, India, England and America. It’s not going to be an easy race.

But most of the high-paying jobs in Westborough are posted online, and many of the people filling these jobs come from around America and the globe. I love the diversity that this is adding to our “average” suburb, but it makes me want to fight for my kid.

So how does this all connect to the common core?

We need to increase the rigor in America’s classrooms, and keep consistent standards across the country, to ensure that kids in Florida are getting the same education as kids in Rhode Island. We need to make sure that Americans are going to be able to receive an equal education to the kids in Europe and Asia, so that later in life, they can continue to get the jobs that we want for our kids.

Honestly, that’s not usually happening in America.

When we think about changes in pace, there are good reasons to support that, too. The field of science is growing at a faster than any other field. If all that my kid learned about in the science classroom was what I learned when graduation in 2002, then he’d be 30 years shy of an up-to-date education.

I don’t want that for him.

Where do you fit in the time to teach kids how to read, write, speak, think, and know all that they need to do to compete in a global economy? Kids need to move at a pace that allows them to explore these ideas, while accommodating for all members of the classroom. (Like those on IEP’s and ELP’s). This puts teachers in a challenging position, but we’re fighting for your kids every day.

Sometimes, teachers will assign homework to help balance that load, and keep us moving at the pace needed to help kids continue to compete.

Most jobs require some sort of work after we go home- email, grading papers, writing reports… Kids need to be prepared to work and live in a world where they work beyond the four walls of a building.

In the end, I wish that people understood how truly competitive post-secondary schools are, as well as the nature of the perspective job market. I know that parents want the best for their kids, but I’m not sure they understand how real this struggle is going to be. The common core isn’t perfect. But it’s an attempt to help American kids find equality and success.

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