I have served in the Georgia General Assembly for 15 years and been fortunate to have worked with many “experts” in education.
I am very concerned about the reaction by some citizens to the Common Core. Georgia was a lead state in the development of the Common Core performance standards and there is great alignment with our former Georgia standards. Yes, this was a state led initiative and not Obamacore.
A standard is a proficiency target. In other words, what knowledge and skills do students need grade by grade and subject by subject, initially in English Language Arts and Mathematics.
The new standards were designed with particular emphasis on critical thinking, research skills and applying knowledge to real world situations (important for an educated workforce).
Any new performance standards must be approved by our State Board of Education and we also have up to 15 percent flexibility in the standards we employ. This allows us to raise the bar in areas we think appropriate.
Common Core is not a curriculum (a directive of how a teacher teaches, what students must learn each day or the materials students and teachers must use). Ironically, most of our current textbooks now in this country come from California, New York and Texas.
Concern has been raised in respect to the privacy of student information. Per the State Department of Education, we do not participate in student-level data sharing initiatives involving submission to the federal government. Georgia currently owns, and will continue to own, all of its data. Even when aggregate data is shared, appropriate protocols and approvals are in place.
I believe that the cost for common assessments is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, when I hear that people oppose national assessments I wonder where they have been. What do they think the Iowa Basic Skills Tests, National Assessment of Educational Progress, SAT and ACT are?
Georgia students must be prepared to compete in the global marketplace and these national standards are necessary for improved college and career readiness. Yes folks, we keep score in the real world and there are winners and losers.
I don’t believe federal funding (less than 10 percent) should be tied to implementing the Common Core. At least five states do not participate in this initiative.
Bottom line: Half of our college students must take remedial mathematics. After six years, 56 percent of our students graduate from college. It is estimated that 85 percent of our future jobs will require some education beyond high school.
Kathleen Porter-Magee, a conservative author, probably said it best: “Common Core offers American students the opportunity for a far more rigorous, content-rich, cohesive K-12 education than most of them have had. Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards and an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic. Aren’t they still?”
State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, is the former chair of the Senate Education Committee.