States Should 'Stay the Course' on Common-Core Standards

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To the Editor:

Ensuring that our young people are prepared for the challenges of college-level coursework and a good career is not an option; it's an obligation. And discussions over how best to do that are devalued when they become a tool for political pundits and a rallying point on the campaign trail.

Those who are proposing changes to the development and implementation of college- and career-ready educational standards like the Common Core State Standards must take into consideration merit, outcomes, and the severe cost of inaction on behalf of those students who will ultimately be left behind.

To that end, the higher education community is taking action. More than 300 college presidents across 37 states, including nearly every public-college president in New York and Tennessee, have joined together to launch the Higher Ed for Higher Standards coalition. Recently, all of Tennessee's community college presidents rallied at the state Capitol to voice support for rigorous K-12 standards. Our message is clear: Don't let the politics of the moment undo the investment educators, parents, and students have made in implementing college- and career-ready standards.

While this seems like common sense, approximately 75 percent of students entering two-year community colleges and approximately 50 percent of those entering less-selective four-year universities require remediation. And graduation rates for students needing remediation are abysmal.

The education crisis facing our country today is very real. Sadly, the conversation has been allowed to devolve into political theater, sidelining substantive talks and all but excluding educators at every level. Common-core standards may not be the silver bullet for addressing the college- and career-readiness gap, but we do know they work and are moving the dial in the right direction.

As several state legislatures consider whether they will stay the course with the common core, our hope is that common sense will prevail. We would ask them to focus less on labels and more on the substance of the standards. The lack of educational preparedness is not only hurting students, it is handicapping our workforce and threatening our global competitiveness.

Lawmakers should think carefully before derailing educational standards that are working, and keep their eyes on what matters most for society: preparing students for future success.

Nancy Zimpher
State University of New York
National Association of System Heads
Albany, N.Y.

John Morgan
Tennessee Board of Regents
Vice Chair
National Association of System Heads
Nashville, Tenn.

Vol. 34, Issue 26, Page 26

Published in Print: April 1, 2015, as States Should 'Stay the Course' On Common-Core Standards
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