By Akosua K. Albritton
New York City and the whole of the United States are experiencing another shake-up in the education of American youth stamped the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The “Common Core” is not a body of knowledge or subject content. Rather, the “Common Core” is the development of intellectual faculties or skill sets applied to English Language Arts (ELA), history/social studies, science & technical subjects and mathematics.
The essential standards for mathematics include:
- To make sense of problems and persevere in finding the solution.
- To reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- To construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- To model with mathematics.
- To use appropriate tools strategically.
- To attend to precision.
The essential standards for ELA, history/social studies include:
- An increased level of complexity to what students are expected to read and a progressive development of reading comprehension so that students can gain more from what they read.
- A progressive sophistication of logical arguments based on claims, solid reasoning and relevant evidence. The writing also includes opinion writing, even within the K–5 standards.
- Students gain, evaluate and present complex information, ideas and evidence specifically through listening and speaking.
- Vocabulary instruction in the standards takes place through a mix of conversations, direct instruction and reading so that students can determine word meanings and can expand their use of words and phrases.
These standards ought to result in the development of logical minds and critical thinkers. These attributes are in great demand in this nation. The force behind the Common Core Standards Initiative is to prepare America’s youth to be ready for work upon graduation from high school or ready for the rigors of college.
Some corners state this initiative—without shared content—will have this nation competitive with other advanced nations. Other corners contend it is long overdue for the US to have educational standards across state borders. Still, others contend the educational standards void of content for each subject area is akin to taking an anatomy course that studies only the skeletal system: what of the cells, connective tissue, muscles, glands, nervous system and organs that comprise the human body?
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is skirting the duty of building a common core of knowledge that age-appropriately informs, engages and enables every child enrolled in an American public school. What may be at issue is the American heterogeneous population is competing with more homogenous nations. Therefore, the homogeneity permits a national narrative to be readily accepted by the public that becomes part of school literature, history and social studies courses. For the United States, history persists in stating Barack H. Obama is the first US President of African descent. In fact, there were at least seven presidents of African ancestry before President Obama.
To Be Continued