Three years after Michigan education experts voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards to better prepare our students our success after high school, the standards are now being implemented in schools across the state.
Early returns are promising. An overwhelming number of teachers trained in the standards believe they will help improve students’ knowledge and critical-thinking skills at every grade level. This would be a significant achievement for Michigan, where students of all races, ethnic backgrounds and income levels have been losing ground to their peers in other states for a decade.
No wonder Michigan was one of 45 states to voluntarily adopt Common Core. No wonder the standards have drawn broad, bipartisan support from governors across the nation, business organizations, and virtually every statewide education association in Michigan. Setting clear, consistent standards in math, reading and writing is something all Michiganders can get behind, regardless of politics. Being able to get honest, comparable information on how Michigan students stack up with students in other states is something every parent wants – whether their child attends school in Traverse City or Portage, Rockville or Huntington Woods.
It’s critical that Michigan lawmakers restore funding for standards that will allow our students to compete in a 21st-Century global economy for good, family supporting jobs. Please urge your state representative and senator to support such a measure.
A group seeking to block these high standards contends Common Core is a federally mandated takeover of local school curriculum in Michigan. One opponent even told a state education panel it was “another ploy by the UN to remove the Constitution and history books and to go to One World Order.”
Common Core, of course, is neither of these things.
Under Common Core, schools will continue to decide how to best instruct students in their classrooms. Local districts will remain in charge of curriculum. They will decide which textbooks and lesson plans are used. That won’t change.
Common Core is a nonpartisan effort by governors (mostly Republican) and leading educators to raise the bar based on the best state standards in America. Students will cover fewer topics, but explore them more deeply. They will develop real world, critical-thinking skills in math, reading and writing, with less emphasis on rote memorization. Each new skill will build on the skills that were learned earlier.
Which states will benefit most? States like Michigan, which until recently set artificially low academic standards, giving parents the false impression that their students were doing just fine. Today, less than 1-in-5 Michigan high school graduates are deemed college- or career-ready in all subjects. Low-income and minority students are left even farther behind. That must change.
Common Core is supported by a broad coalition of Michigan business, education and community groups who believe that high standards, greater accountability and ensuring that our students can compete in a 21st-Century global economy are values worth fighting for.
Within this extraordinary alliance are organizations that frankly don’t always agree on education policy – but they are sold on Common Core. That includes such divergent voices as charter school academies and Michigan’s major teachers’ unions; school boards and principals, business leaders, current and former governors; PTA Michigan and the families of active-duty military personnel.
Rigor. Accountability. High expectations. Achievement.
These are values that should transcend politics. These are American values. And they are Michigan values, too.