Source: Valley Roadrunner

Common core and the common good

by Kim Harris

January 15, 2014

Over the past several months Roadrunner readers have seen numerous articles on the new Common Core standards adopted by the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District. While all of the information regarding the program was disseminated I refrained from giving my opinion, until now.

Most readers know my family is a military one and I canít sing the praises of Common Core enough. There are many people out there like me, who move back and forth from state to state and from coast to coast. One of the unique problems faced by military families and those who frequently relocate for their jobs is the differences from school system to school system and having common core standards in place could very well be the solution to the problem.

My best example is my oldest son Nick and the problems he faced in school due to multiple moves. He went to three different elementary schools due to military moves, four if you count the years I homeschooled him due to deficiencies in the school system where we were stationed.

When we moved from Virginia to Maryland the differences werenít too bad, but when we left Maryland to go to Naval Base Ventura County, the curriculum between the two schools was like night and day. He was in fourth grade the year that I started homeschooling due to his fall in grades which were attributed to boredom because he was so far advanced from what the schools there were currently teaching.

When we moved back to Maryland three years later, in spite of my best efforts he was still behind his classmates, but still fared better than he would have had I left him in the public school system in Oxnard. Overall it took him approximately a year and a half to catch up with his peers in math and science. He graduated from Patuxent High School in Lusby Maryland back in 2008, never having a problem once we settled there.

Fast forward to 2012 when my family and I moved back to California, this time choosing to reside in Riverside County. Garrett was in ninth grade and due to the differences in school systems I began to see similar problems. Murrieta Valley Unified didnít offer Advanced placement for ninth graders and taught a totally different curriculum from Camden County High School, where we relocated from. Garrett ended up, due to their requirements, back in Algebra one, even though he was in AP Algebra when we left Georgia.

This year Garrett was placed in geometry, another class he had previously taken. Due to the MVUSD requirements, however, he has to repeat this class too. Both last year and this one have been a struggle for him as he is constantly bored with the class work and I have to stand over top of him to ensure homework is getting done. After all, in the mind of a 15-year-old boy who would rather play baseball, there is no point in doing the homework when he already knows the material.

Had Common Core been in place when my family moved, not by choice but because the Navy required it, perhaps we wouldnít have this struggle with ensuring our children are getting a good education.

I know Common Core sometimes gets a bad rap from parents and even sometimes, educators, who tend to fear that teachers are teaching for test scores, but when I look at the bigger picture and how Common Core benefits the student, I can only see it as a change for the betterment of our education system and our childrenís lives.