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Students differ greatly in academic abilities

I can’t blame Commissioner John King Jr. for avoiding confronting critics of his Common Core educational philosophy and all its test-laden trappings. The crushing of fanciful illusions by the rejection invoked by the voices of experience and common sense must indeed be painful. Perhaps the word is out; no more will parents and teachers submit to doctrines alien to educational reality.

If there were such a thing as Common Core, it would be a distillation of common educational practice. However, educational history in this country shows more a movement away from general practice to distinctive models. Our agrarian origins led to the development of certain curricula and student expectations. Urban school districts decided on more complex curricula with increased student expectation. As city schools decayed, suburban school districts grew and developed yet more ambitious programs.

Today we have all gradations of all these educational models. The students they serve differ greatly in educational needs and in academic abilities. In the past, boards have had the ability to tailor their schools to the needs of their community and the abilities of their students. It is difficult to say what is common to all these various districts. Common Core instead is a declaration by fiat on what students should achieve, contrived by bureaucrats (with a nudge from participating publishers).

American education has been based upon learning in classes based on age and subjects. However, the system breaks down when the range of student ability in each class becomes too wide. Burdened with a majority of non-functioning students, class instruction fails. Addressing this problem will do more to help than flogging teachers and students with Common Core paraphernalia.

William Rich

Retired teacher

Williamsville