Journey of a Superintendent: Why Common Core?

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of  the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of
the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools

The debate about Common Core Standards continues across the nation, and is in full swing in Kansas. Opponents suggest that Common Core Standards are an attempt to have a national run education system. A few say these standards are going to “dumb-down” American education. When I hear these comments, I wonder if the opposition is based on rational thought or simply based on political interest. What I do know is that if you ask a business leader (many of whom were at the table to develop the Common Core Standards), and you ask an educator, these standards are necessary for our kids to be competitive for quality jobs. Right now, American schools are falling behind. This doesn’t mean that our educational system is not quality, it’s because we have been aiming as targets (state developed standards) that do not translate into knowledge and skills needed in our global economy.

Standards, defined by Webster, are “something accepted as a basis of comparison.” Standard of living is defined as “a measure of quality.” Don’t we want an educational system that is striving to attain a certain quality that is reliable no matter where you live or operate your business?  So for me, the conversation should be about what our students need to know and be able to do to have successful futures in this global economy.

Two very important factors have risen to the top of our priorities here in KCKPS. When we think about what our students need, we first recognize that our students must be highly literate individuals. This means that each student must be able to read, write, speak, and reason (think deeply) with whatever content or challenge he or she is facing. Second, we have committed to a singular goal that each student graduate prepared for college and careers in a global society, and that at every level performance is on-track and on time for success. The short version could be simply stated, that our students graduate prepared to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.

So what are Common Core Standards and how do they help us prepare our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow?  I found this video by the Council of the Great City Schools and I think it does a nice job of describing the Common Core Standards and why the standards are essential for our students.

We need Common Core Standards in order to do the difficult work necessary to give our kids a leg-up in the competitive world we live in. Bottom line, it takes all of us – schools, parents, community members and businesses – working together to prepare our kids for their futures. It’s Up to Us!

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