Raymond J. Ankrum of Riverhead Charter School Explains Why He Supports Common Core

Let’s face it: If you pay any attention at all to education and education-related issues, you have heard the words COMMON CORE. The common core standards for math and language arts are a set of common curriculum guidelines developed by the National Governors Association and the Obama administration. The goal of this initiative is to provide a clear understanding of what students at each grade level are expected to learn, so they can stay on track for college and successful careers. In addition, it provides parents and educators with the tools they need to help students.

As the Common Core debate continues to heat up, politicians and TV talk show hosts spend a great deal of time talking about the benefits and challenges posed by the new program and its effect on the learning.

It comes as no surprise that with all the chatter, some people have a hard time figuring out whether Common Core is ultimately good for students and the educational process in general.

In my professional opinion, this new initiative can yield important benefits for children. Here are a few simple reasons why:

Common Core stimulates creativity

Sadly, some teachers put fun and creative activities on the backburner and fully focus on the curriculum and the tests. Due to a busy schedule, they don’t always have the time to engage in creative pursuits. That’s why Common Core is important. Not being a prescribed curriculum, the program tells educators exactly what students should be able to do and what they should be able to accomplish by the end of the term. It is totally up to educators to determine how to get their and how to deliver instructions.

Common Core enhances critical thinking

The new learning standards encourage students to take an active part in their learning and think more critically about content, as opposed to restating and repeating what their teachers say in class. Or if students are working on narrative writing, they can read a story, evaluate the writer and try to write a narrative using the author’s style. This seems like a better and more viable alternative to simply writing a story; the activity requires more critical thinking. That’s what will make students more competitive and employable.

Common Core is collaborative

The Common Core enables teachers to develop their own curriculum, using their skills, resources and experience. Typically, educators are better equipped to decide what is best for their students and how to present information to children. Also, teachers will have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas with each other and use their voices collectively. They will discuss what works and what doesn’t and create common resources.

Common Core promotes equity

From my perspective, one of the reasons to be excited about this initiative is because it will be a challenge for ALL students, not just a small group of high achievers. It is a good way to close opportunity gaps for poor and minority children. As long as all kids, from different socio-economic backgrounds are being held to the same rigorous standards, it promotes equity and leads to higher achievement.

In  a nutshell, despite some of the drawbacks and ongoing criticism, I do believe that Common Core will do more good than harm and prepare a lot of students for a highly-competitive global economy.

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