To the Editor:
Statements by Sen. Laura Woods in a recent Colorado Independent article prompted me here to address some inaccuracies. She states incorrectly that our schools’ Common Core standards “debunk” American Exceptionalism with a “re-writing of history.”
In fact, Common Core standards do not apply to history. States chose to adopt the Common Core standards to outline learning expectations in only two academic subjects: English language arts and mathematics. It’s likely that Sen. Woods has confused herself as a result of a highly publicized controversy over the revised Advanced Placement History courses. That issue is unrelated to the implementation of college- and career-ready standards.
Non-educators often confuse standards with curricula or tests. Standards specify the knowledge and skill-sets for students at each grade level. A curriculum, on the other hand, specifies the materials used in schools and the ways ideas are taught. Schools or districts are responsible for determining textbooks and classroom resources, and those choices can vary widely. There is no single Common Core curriculum. It’s a myth.
And let us recall how the standards came about. They arose from the stark reality that far too many young Americans were leaving school ill-prepared for either college or career. Currently, the U.S. is ranked 30th in the world in math and 20th in reading (which I find hardly exceptional). The business community demanded change because too many students hired after high school lacked the fundamental knowledge and skills to do the job as expected. Colleges and universities chimed in, citing the huge increase in students who needed remedial courses.
Thankfully, unlike Sen. Woods, today’s students should be able to discern the difference between curriculum and standards, because the Common Core state standards foster critical thinking rather than ideological regurgitation.
Former Colo. Sen. Rachel Zenzinger