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States to Establish National Curriculum Standards for Schools

For reasons I have never fully understood, each state in the union is charged with determining what their public school children should learn and when they should learn it.   While one state may be teaching kids to add fractions in the third grade, another may not touch that subject until the fourth.  In language arts, the timetable for mastering skills varies from state to state as well.

This, of course, results in an inequity in education based solely on where a student happens to live.  Why should this be?  It shouldn’t.  And soon, it won’t. 

Sweeping changes in curriculum standards nationwide are coming soon.  These new English-language and math benchmarks will ensure that all students in grades K through 12 are on an identical educational path that leads to the same place:  Finishing high school fully prepared for a career or college regardless of where they live.

It’s called the Common Core Curriculum and most states believe it is an idea whose time has come.  All but two of them, Texas and Alaska, have signed on to the project, which was developed with input from teachers, parents, school administrators, civil rights leaders and others.

While the U.S. Department of Education is in favor of the project and included the new standards as part of the “Race to the Top” grant competition, the federal government isn’t involved in the program.  It is actually a state-led initiative directed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

But what about Texas and Alaska?  Why aren’t they on board?  I don’t know what Alaska has against it, but Texas has rejected the plan in order to preserve their “sovereign authority to determine what is appropriate for Texas children to learn in its public schools.”  If you’ve been paying attention to that state’s educational news lately, you know that their idea of “appropriate” differs greatly from the mainstream.

Find out more about the new curriculum standards and how it will impact your student by visiting the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Image: Rex Pe/Flickr

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