Our Opinion: Implement Common Core and test its results

Common Core controversy continues.

Although Common Core educational standards were adopted in Missouri in 2010, they were a topic of state Senate hearing last week.

Senators heard testimony on a bill that would halt implementation of Common Core standards for a year. And among the speakers were two educators who oppose Common Core and testified they were subjected to intimidation and retaliation from their district officials.

By way of background, Common Core standards were launched in 2009 as a joint initiative by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The goal was to develop more rigorous standards for math and English curricula in the schools throughout the nation.

Missouri’s State Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010, placing Missouri among 44 states that have embraced Common Core.

Since 2010, many schools — including Jefferson City — have been transitioning to implement the standards, with full implementation expected during the 2014-15 school year.

Proponents believe the revised math and language standards will raise student achievement and provide a common foundation to compare attainment among students, both nationally and internationally.

Opponents contend there is no evidence Common Core will raise educational outcomes. In addition, because President Obama and the U.S. Department of Education have endorsed Common Core, opponents fear it invites federal intrusion and will diminish local control of schools.

Our approach to education issues is based on two fundamentals: academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.

Applying that criteria, educators must follow district policies and curriculum, but they must be free to challenge what policies and procedures best advance educational goals. Educators must not be punished for sharing their thoughts or perspectives.

With regard to Common Core, we see it as another in a continuing series of experiments to determine the best educational structure for the greatest number of students.

Education occurs when a student learns from a source, which can be teacher, parent, coach, book, computer program, personal experience — the list goes on, ad infinitum.

Since the advent of cave drawing, mankind has been trying to find the optimum structure to facilitate learning in a group setting. The implementation of academies, changes to the SATs, and transition to Common Core standards are among the most recent efforts.

Common Core is an initiative by the states — not the federal government — and is near the end of its transition to full implementation.

We’re not inclined to put the brakes on now, four years after adoption and months before we get a chance to learn from this latest experiment in education.

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