Both Republican and Democratic governors need to know that minority parents with children in the public schools express similar concerns to those of non-minority parents. They, too, don’t understand why Common Core seems to assume that all children will benefit from the low academic expectations embodied in Common Core’s college-readiness standards.
A panel at the National Principals Leadership Institute (NPLI) meeting in Manhattan last Sunday was asked to focus on Common Core. As a member of the panel, I had the opportunity to explain how Common Core’s standards had failed the real equity test.
An audience filled with African American and Hispanic educators got it right away. No one had told them that Common Core’s standards don’t prepare American kids for some of the best jobs in the 21st century–STEM-related jobs. Nor had they been told that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) leave out high school chemistry and the lab-based physics course on the grounds that they constitute “advanced work in the sciences,” and that “students wishing to move into STEM fields should be encouraged to follow their interest with additional coursework” (page 5 of 11 in second section of NGSS “Front Matter”).
When the panel discussion ended, one African American elementary principal rushed right up to me to talk about her bright young daughter who is a good reader. Why was her daughter, however, assumed to be unable to handle advanced mathematics and science in high school?
She and the other African American and Hispanic administrators in the audience want their children in the public schools to have the same opportunity to get into a selective college as kids whose parents can afford to hire math and science tutors to make up for the deficits in their public school curriculum–or to send them to a private school that will teach their kids what Bill Gates’ kids learn in the private school they attend in Seattle.
In a recent Washington Post interview, Gates admitted that the primary goal of the Common Core was to socially engineer the “huge problem that low-income kids get less good education than suburban kids get.” However, in attempting to make it possible for low-income and minority children to be declared “college-ready,” black and Hispanic parents see that the low-quality Common Core standards do a disservice to their academically strong and ambitious children wanting to aim for a STEM career.
These parents wonder why the writers of Common Core’s standards assume that all African American and Hispanic kids can’t get beyond community college and can’t be expected to aim for a STEM career. That is the only reason they can come up with for the absence of mathematics standards in Common Core that would prepare high school kids for the third “pathway” (the one to calculus).
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas.