Black Boys in Crisis: Common Core

In this series, appropriately titled “Black Boys in Crisis,” I highlight the problems facing black boys in education today, as well as provide clear steps that will lead us out of the crisis.

 The Common Core State Standards Initiative had its roots in the 1990s when states began creating academic standards for their schools. Governors from various states banded together to create Achieve, Inc., an organization devoted to the creation and adoption of viable standards.

By 2009, a set of common standards had been written and agreed upon, with the purpose being to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.” By 2016, forty-two states had decided to adopt the Common Core standards, which offer direction on what students should know in the key areas of math and literacy. A corollary set of standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, was developed for the sciences. Though the Common Core has been on the receiving end of vitriol, primarily from Republican governors, and several states have withdrawn from the standards, the jury is still out on whether they are working.

The consensus seems to be that, as with many educational efforts, the top-performing students will continue to get better. However, the Common Core introduces new, more difficult concepts at an earlier age, particularly in math. Low-performing black boys who have not yet grasped the base concepts will not have the foundation to build upon. The result will likely be, as so often in the past, a rash of dropouts who simply do not have the background to do the required work. Especially if their schools do not provide them with the supports that they need to succeed. However, an alternative reality may be that challenging black boys to succeed will force them to rise to the occasion. This coupled with the proper supports may just be a recipe for success. I am pulling for the later.

What do you think? Is common core a good or bad thing for black boys?


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