Education advocacy group says Common Core Standards requires level playing field
By Stephen Witt
While most educators continue to laud Common Core Standards, many black, Latino and poor students in the city’s public schools are at a disadvantage to reach these standards because of a lack of resources, according to the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), an education research and advocacy group.
That is just one of the AQE’s reactions to a recent Independent Budget Office report that found black, Latino and poor students have fewer resources, particularly in science and arts, than their white and Asian peers.
The report, which defined minority and poor students as those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, found that these students have half the access to the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes as their white and Asian counterparts. Additionally, these students generally have fewer science, music and art classes and are less likely to have a library, medical office or gym compared to white and Asian students across the city.
Nearly 16 percent of public high schools don’t have a science lab and roughly half don’t have art rooms. The study also found that white and Asian students go to high schools with nearly twice as many science labs as high schools attended mainly by black, Latino and poor students.
“The real goal of the Common Core is about raising the quality of the curriculum for every single student, of what they learn in the classroom, not just what is tested,” said AQE Executive Director Billy Easton. “Raising standards will only improve outcomes if black and Latino, ELL (English Language Learners) and low-income students have equal access to a well-rounded curriculum that includes art, music, science, gym and Advanced Placement courses. We will not move the needle on closing the racial achievement gap until we close the opportunity gap.”
But Department of Education spokeswoman Erin Hughes told reporters the report was misleading, and noted the percentage of black students taking Aps are up 26 percent since 2008 and the percentage of Latino students taking APs rose 42 percent since 2008.
Despite the lack of resources some educators in Central Brooklyn still believe that Common Core Standards should remain in place at schools in poorer neighborhoods.
“Common Core has everybody so afraid,” said Research & Service High School Principal Allison Farrington. “Common Core simply teaches the skills students need for critical thinking.”