What is Common Core? Part I

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015

What is Common Core? According to a current Common Core textbook forward, Common Core was created by experts enlisted by the National Governors’ Association when Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was chairman. The goal was to create a curriculum to assure all students in all states graduate with the same skills to enter college.

Why is this consistency important? College tuition has increased steadily every year. One expense, which did not exist when I attended USM, is remedial classes. Today, colleges and universities are faced with incoming freshmen who cannot read nor do math skills at a college level. Community colleges and some universities have had to add these remedial classes and require unprepared freshmen to pass the courses before continuing with normal college curriculum. The classes cost the student the same in tuition, fees, and books as regular courses but they do not receive credit for them. It costs the school a classroom expense and teacher salary to offer such courses. The result is the student will spend additional years to complete his degree, the school must charge more to compensate for adding remedial courses and the student’s debt is increased. The remedial courses affect all incoming freshmen in the form of higher tuition and ultimately higher debt for them as well. If students are prepared in K-12 as they should be, then student debt could be four years as designed instead of five or even six years caused by the student needing remedial courses.

Recently, Lt. Gov. Reeves decided to “throw up his hands” and give up on Common Core. Why?  The curriculum has been approved since 2010, but our state only chose to implement it two years ago. Since that time they have consistently cut funding to the school districts, which could have been used by our teachers for seminars, textbooks and maybe even creation of a “bridge” to assist the older students who are impacted more by Common Core. 

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Why didn’t we adopt Common Core back in 2010 for the younger children while working on a bridge curriculum to assist the older ones? An answer to that question could be 2011 was a statewide election year to replace a term limited Governor that involved a Lt. Governor who ran for Governor. As usual, the future of our children became a political football as is the case this election cycle as well. Why else would Lt. Gov. Reeves choose to suddenly change his mind on Common Core and look to a Mississippi alternative?

See part 2 next week.