One size fits all education hasn’t worked in the past

August 6, 2010


With a modicum of fanfare, California approved President Obama’s “Race to the Top” common core standards in math and English language arts for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, bringing the state in line with the other 31 states and the District of Columbia. The biggest motivating factor behind signing on to the nationwide standards was to stay in play to receive (possibly) $700 million in grant money which is a part of the “Race to the Top.”

   While we applaud the effort to improve education across the board with the goal to provide a framework that is consistent, and consistently rigorous, there are enough nagging issues to keep our enthusiasm in check.

   California has a set of standards that are considered among the best in the country.  While each state is allowed the leeway to tweak the standards, there remains a question of dummying down the State’s already high standards.

   Then there is the old scab left over from the time Alan Bersin tried to implement his version of uniformed education at San Diego Unified School District with his “Blueprint for Student Success.”   The “Blueprint” turned into a total flop. If Bersin had succeeded instead of the “Race to the Top” we might have seen the “Blueprint” rolled out nationally.

   Then there is the issue of setting high proficiency standards and judging teachers based on the final outcome. This only lends itself to teaching to the test and cheating.

   Finally, there is the negative impact on minority and disadvantaged students. Much like President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” the “Race to the Top” rewards those schools and teachers who succeed. Those schools and teachers in underprivileged neighborhoods, who are already facing daunting hurdles and usually dealing with English as a Second Language population, are chastised and face penalties for not performing up to standard. It is those students and teachers who need the most support available.

   The Hispanic community is the least educated community in the U.S. public school system. Change is required as we continually look to improve this deplorable situation for our Hispanic students. We will hope for the best but unfortunately we do not have a record of success to point to that shows one-size-fits-all education is the answer.

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