The Common Core—a federally approved, but not nationally mandated program in the United States—aims to give students across the U.S. much-needed, uniform curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. Proponents of the Common Core present it as the great equalizer that will allow students, regardless of the amount of their school’s resources or level of their parents’ income bracket, to have equal instruction and opportunity to achieve in early and secondary education.

This introduction of the Common Core emerges at a time of growing inequality and anxious unrest concerning educational outcomes in the U.S. For decades, both U.S. school curricula and assessments have been publicly acknowledged as widely uneven, with students attending private schools and growing up in higher income families generally having far greater access to resources—from high-tech computers to heat during the winter months—and more consistent, quality instruction.

Though the Common Core cannot safeguard against school districts’ late gas and electric payments, it can provide equal grounds for students regarding the kinds of textbooks used in classrooms and the materials available for teachers to prepare lectures.

By all accounts the Common Core seems to be a reasonable proposition for student learning. However, it has been met with staunch, vocal opposition.

Many parents in the U.S., including some quasi celebrity figures, have recently taken to social media to express their discontent with the Common Core and its standardized testing system, which have been implemented in states such as New York.

They argue that the frequent standardized testing, especially in early grades, takes the fun out of learning for their children (as if fun is an indispensable ingredient for knowledge acquisition). Others say the questions are too tricky and would rather the students’ teachers evaluate their progress instead of using tests as assessments.

For a nation that outwardly promotes the ideal of meritocracy, a movement against the enactment of common standards, in contradiction to the essence of a just climb atop the socioeconomic ladder, is a complete surprise.

Although it is a work in progress, the Common Core is making great strides to level the playing field for all children to attain education. Those who oppose the Common Core appear to be against leveling the playing field and against making an extremely uneven process remarkably fair and transparent.

Some of these parents, who have decided that their children should not be compared to other students based on objective academic standards, have opted their children out of the Common Core tests. Opting out of the process purport itself to be a patchwork solution to their gripes in the short-term, but as this approach to student learning and assessment sets in, parents may no longer be able to sidestep seeing how their children measure up to other children across the country and around the world.

Rather than opting their children out of Common Core testing, parents should embrace the new system and adapt to this method of instruction and evaluation. With fewer resources being available for a growing number of the world’s citizens, competition is inevitable. Opting children out of the testing process and opposing a program whose goal is to increase fairness in the educational system is a step backwards, departing from the way the rest of the world handles youth education.

Those in opposition to the Common Core obviously fail to acknowledge that majority of countries across the world implement some form of unified standards for testing academic achievement. The West Africa Examination, for example, is considered to be the gold standard of high school achievement. Similarly, the International Baccalaureate is based on both a rigorous curriculum and a standardized high school exit exam.

The U.S. should join the rest of the world in providing its students from all backgrounds, upbringings, and social classes a fair chance to compete for future opportunities based on their educational achievements. That must begin with each child having a common curriculum and assessment.

The truth remains that leveling the playing field using a Common Core is the best way to achieve greater equality in the largely unequal U.S. educational system. In turn, a certain proportion of students who perform well on these standardized tests should gain automatic admission to selective U.S. colleges and universities.

If the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, were to admit a hefty proportion of students who made a perfect or close to perfect scores on the science portion, perhaps students who otherwise feel that test scores and even effort in school do not matter, would feel more motivated to achieve a high score.

As it stands, the U.S. educational system promises rewards for students’ educational achievement, but payoffs vary greatly for students of different means. Having fixed, specified standards and rewards for achievement in plain sight is a bold step towards building towards an educational system that is on par with the rest of the word, with regard to fairness for all students.

Previous articleWar in Ghana? Let Wisdom Reign
Next articleThe Surprising Way Kemetians Moved Massive Pyramid Stones
Nefetiti is the Chief Editor at Grandmother Africa. She holds two Bachelor degrees, a double major in Chemistry and Physics. Since 1997, Nefetiti has authored several reports on Democracy and the state of Republics in the African Union. She became an African Reporting Fellow in 2007. Before joining the Definitive African Record, Nefetiti trained as a Digital Media expert. If you enjoyed this essay and would like to support more content like this one, please buy me a cup of coffee in support of my next essay, or you can go bold, very bold and delight me. Here's my CashApp: $AMARANEFETITI


  1. I’m a former teacher. I now work as an editor for online courses at a university. Part of my work has been proofreading ed courses that explain the Common Core standards. The examples I worked with had me scratching my head. A writing assignment for 4th graders about Civil War quilts, for example, included two parts, steps to follow, directions for beginning, questions, instructions to read two articles and a video, and a follow up assignment. The set of instructions alone took up a full page of text.

    The Common Core English Language Standard the kid was supposed to master was, “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write about the subject knowledgeably.”

    I thought, what 10-year-old would be able to do this? Which one would want to?

    My fear is that my little white boys in our attempt to make sure kids meet standards, will actually be left behind. Forget that part of education is to inspire students to want to learn. Common Core is going to make it difficult for me to inspire my boys, especially when I can’t solve the problems myself.

  2. I support the common core but we really hasve to look at the content. Who is setting the common core is the problem. I feel in order for it to be a common core the board of examiners must be diverse…

    Because all these test have cultural, regional and socioeconomic biases.
    I used to read a standardized test to my first graders that had several questions that a kid from suburban Philadelphia would never have gotten correct if the question wasn’t explained to them.

    In one question was a drawing of a girl with her hair in braids. The student was to pick the drawing depicting the “PL” blend.

    According to the test, this was the correct answer because the girl had her hair in plaits.

    I don’t know where they call this hairstyle “plaits”, but never in Philadelphia.

    Another question was looking for the beginning “P” sound. One of the drawings was a bucket. You guessed it, it was a “pail”. Again, not in Philly it isn’t!

    Another one of my favorites was the test’s insistence that “log” and “dog” rhyme. Not in my world!

    This is why standardized testing can never be fair to everyone. Too many differences occur in different regions and some students aren’t familiar with the examples or illustrations given unless they are explained to them by a teacher.

  3. The common core math is way too confusing. You need to build a child’s education on a strong foundation of the basics before they can understand the expanded ideas of mathematics. You cannot give someone all the ingredients for a souffle and tell them to go make one if they’ve never cooked anything before. Once they get down basic math then you teach them what can be done with it.

    • I had a discussion with someone who felt the math lessons her kids were getting were all off base. She described a sample process, and it turned out to be exactly how I think about math. It would definitely help her kids be better mathematical thinkers, but it didn’t match how she thought about math, so she felt it had ot be wrong.

      Frankly, teach third graders how to play cribbage and let them do that for half an hour a day and you will get better results.

  4. Ravitch examined the Common Core Standards and found a “fatal flaw.”

    Personally, I support a Common Core, a localized one, not an entirely national one. I find this is an even basic flaw. Broad “Standards” as the US ones are not appropriate when applied to the outcomes of education. Training, as in flying an aircraft, running a metal lathe, constructing a building, or writing a computer program seems a more likely target for standards.

    After all, we are expecting a pretty uniform outcome for each of the participants in America which harbors a most diverse populace. We don’t want our pilot trying out a new landing procedure for the first time when we are the passenger.

    Education is an entirely different matter. The goal is to extend the potential of each participant producing diverse outcomes suited to the interest and capabilities of every learner, locals, for example in Philadelphia.

    The only place for standards or the Common Core should be in this process, in the delivery of the learning. Each locality (not child, as some tiger moms in the US want) should have access to qualified teachers, a specified level of resources, an appropriate, safe environment, etc.

    It is not just a matter of developing standards for learning in a “standard” way, i.e. ANSI. It is realizing that the objective of education is to meet the needs of children in an appropriate way and working to achieve that goal.

    • People who believe in the importance of local contexts in making education policy are against the Common Core. Those who believe that educators should decide curriculum issues are against the Common Core.

      Those who believe in public input into education policy are against the Common Core. Those who believe in the rich, deep, and diverse curriculum are against the Common Core. And those who are for public control of public schools are against the Common Core.

      That leaves the supporters, a small, powerful group of apolitical, technocratic billionaires and philanthrocapitalists who want to use the Common Core to steer social policy, privatize public schools with another generation of high stakes tests, and turn public spending on education into multiple revenue streams.

      Those who still believe in democratic politics, whether Republican or Democrat, are opposed to this corporate takeover. It will come to end because the handful of plutocrats who favor cannot make parents have their participate in their own miseducation.

  5. I know that opposition to Common Core is wrong, because it is 100% politically driven, by the same groups that want to take our country back to the 19th century. Their heavily funded lies resonate with some parents, no doubt because those same parents don’t know enough to help their third grader children with their schoolwork, and with genuine rigor in education, that can only get worse.

    I would say to those parents, if you love your children, don’t condemn them to live your lives by withholding education from them. If they grow up just like you, their lives won’t even be as good as yours, because the world will continue to change whether you like it or not. That you cannot stop.

  6. Teachers try to do the job well, the problems in our system is the need for these tests that they teach how to take the test. In the end a teacher doing a good job comes to a simple item we have taken from them.

    Give them a necessary core to teach. Do not however give them the method in which they have to teach it. Let the teacher innovate based on the students. Let the teacher think outside the box. That use to exist. When I was in school teachers would target a student who was behind. Try to find a way to get the lesson and learning to them. Not all learn the same way.

    I was one of them. I could not learn from a text book, but when at a very young age a teacher noticed something, my world after that changed. The teacher noticed I learn by doing. Not by reading or lectures. It is why the field I am good in is mechanical and debugging problems. I learn from solving problems. Logic puzzles are my by far favorite lazy time item.

    That teacher found ways for me to excel in science and technology. English however teachers found ways, but my written is horrible. But they did get my spoken much better.

    Teachers now have to follow the preset method and teach the test. That is the change we need. Common core as the base, let them teach how they see it works.

  7. The Common Core standards do not mandate testing. They prescribe a rigorous curriculum in which students learn to think, use data, and analyze. Unfortunately, ignorant state departments of education have decided to devise tests to determine how well students are learning Common Core concepts even before curricula are developed or teachers are trained to teach Common Core concepts. This is a failure of politicians who know nothing about how kids learn, and a failure of educational administrators who have spent their working lives listening to politicians.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.