Thursday, June 3, 2010

City leaders: common standards and "a real shot at the American dream"

We believe it is only through common standards that we can deliver on the promise of equity implicit in the purpose of public education, and give all our young people a real shot at the American dream.
So argue 55 members of the Council of Great City Schools in an open letter urging states to adopt and implement the new common core standards. Shelley Berman of Jefferson County is a signatory, along with the superintendents from Albuquerque, Anchorage, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Buffalo, Charleston County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chicago, Cincinnati, Clark County, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Dayton, Denver, District of Columbia, Duval County, East Baton Rouge, Fort Worth, Fresno, Hillsborough County, Houston, Indianapolis, Jackson, Kansas City, Little Rock, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami-Dade, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Newark, Norfolk, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orange County, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Richmond, Rochester, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Toledo.

Here's the core of their argument:
In the absence of a clear and consistent set of common academic standards for what should be expected of all children, each state instead sets its own standards for what kids should know and be able to do. Sometimes these standards are high; often they are not. Either way, the inconsistencies between them serve to perpetuate the nation’s educational inequities at a time when we should be working to overcome them. This issue is particularly important in America’s largest cities, which educate millions of the students the nation most desperately wants to help. With proper support for implementation, the Common Core State Standards will help us solve these problems.

These standards will help us ensure that high school graduates across the country are adequately prepared to compete in the global economy, no matter which state they come from. These standards will give all our schools common targets, clarifying what we expect teachers to be teaching and what we will hold schools and districts accountable for. These standards will give us, for once, a common definition of what academic proficiency means and what it doesn’t mean, rather than having 50 different definitions. Not only will this help schools focus their efforts on one set of high standards, it will undercut the temptation by individual states to lower their standards or dumb down their tests to meet federal targets.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!