Change is not easy but it is necessary

Few will argue urgent action is needed to turn around our failing schools. This is the objective of a Common Core standard that demands rigorous workloads placing extra stress on students, teachers and parents. So it should; we cannot achieve our goals by applying the same effort as we do now.

Critics say the standards force a teacher to teach to the test. Of course they do; that is the intent. Teaching to the test is exactly what needs to be done because the test measures what needs to be learned. The Common Core does not dictate what cannot be taught, only what must be taught. Talented teachers will also engage their students in subjects, topics and activities that are not demanded by the Common Core. This is not an either-or issue.

The argument that the rollout is happening too fast is one born of panic and despondency. Sure it is difficult, sure teachers must scramble, sure students must adjust their attitudes and the time they apply to their education. You can’t make a transition from failure mode to success without effort. Delay just moves the effort down the road and another group of students go out into the world unprepared.

The lady who complained that her son performed at the top of the class but now struggles with the workload is a telling example of the huge gap that exists between what was once considered sufficient to move students steadily through the grade system and what is now recognized as necessary to fit that student for life.

Our current performance does injustice to the capabilities and aspirations of our young people. Change will not be easy; the Common Core standard is a start. We should stop whining and get on with it.

Richard Arnatt