Dear Future President,
Greetings and congratulations on the presidency of 2016! Our country is in need of a strong leader to take us through this changing age, and I hope you possess all strengths necessary to serve this country. Our modern era has developed many cracks, and in your position, you have the ability to help mend many of them. As a suburban highschooler, a few of these issues are especially relevant to me, particularly the debate over common core standards being implemented in schools, so I’d really appreciate your ear on the matter.
According to the Common Core Standards Initiative, Common Core Standards are “ a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics”. It was launched in 2009 and has been adopted by 48 states. It's not that common core is a poor concept; it’s presence has helped schools across the country become more consistent, aiming to give students anywhere in the country relatively equal, grade level, skills, but that ideology is what’s caused a bug in the system. Education should be equal geographically, but should it be equal individually? Students shouldn’t be standardized without any leeway to pursue passions or specific interests on areas of curriculum, especially if they’re being limited because they need to spend more time learning material to prepare for sets of standardized testing. Students create a higher level of learning for themselves if they’re allowed to spend time exploring a topic they’re interested in, as explained by Annie Murphy Paul in her article concerning learning and interest, How the Power of Interest Drives Learning. She explains how interest propels students to understand concepts on a deeper level and think clearer. I’ve seen this issue at play with multiple peers. Going through sets of common core standards can often create disengaging learning environments, as not everyone loves every subject, but students can pick out interesting parts of even the worst classes. If common core standards weren't at the forefront of many teacher’s lesson plans, students could take time to dive deeper into a classroom topic in which they feel connected or interested in. For example, many classrooms have started incorporating project based learning, and it’s proven to be quite engaging for many students, and letting a student run with a specific idea, taking it to the next level by spending more time on it, creates a deeper level of understanding. However, this would call for mandated flexibility of common core standards, especially ones aimed to teach standardized test material or expandable points of teaching.
I ask you to help correct this issue by passing legislation that requires these learning standards to have an added degree of flexibility, giving unique students the ability to receive a unique education. This would mean adjusting any targets designed to exclusively prepare students for tests, then adjusting the tests themselves, cutting out learning targets that are artificially beneficial. This would also let teachers decide which topics they may be covering in excess, letting them listen to their students, adjusting the way students approach the classroom. I see a change like this benefitting students in such a way that they’re more likely to take ownership of their education, creating genuine engagement, and enjoy a higher level of education.
Please take this concern seriously, as the passion and the education of youth are what fuels the future - and you now have the power to hinder or release it. As a student who is mired in ticking the boxes to show I mastered Common Core State Standards, I can no longer see the forest through the trees, and I don’t want the same for my peers.