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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona leg needs to invest in reform

    Around Tucson, you might have noticed the red campaign signs screaming at you in bold all-caps to “Stop Common Core.” Those signs were from the campaign of Frank Riggs, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who lost in the primary. But the issue of the Common Core remains alive.

    The Republican candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas, has run what The Arizona Republic described as a “one-issue campaign based on her promise to repeal the [Common Core].” She beat out incumbent John Huppenthal, who referred to Common Core opponents as “barbarians at the gate” in the primary election last month. There’s even an activist group called Arizonans against Common Core.

    It’s clear that the implementation of the Common Core in Arizona is a polarized issue. Some seem to either endorse Common Core as the ultimate solution, or portray it as worse than Obamacare and Affirmative Action combined. But it’s time to talk facts.

    In a spring report from the National Center for School Leadership, Arizona was ranked 48th out of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia in how much it spends per student. Arizona high schools who ranked in the 99th percentile in-state only placed in the 85th percentile nationally.

    So, if the top 1 percent of Arizona high schools are only in the 85th percentile, what does that say about the other 99 percent?Arizona has a public education spending problem. Education is an investment. Obviously, Arizona has invested the bare minimum, and the resulting numbers speak for themselves. So how do we go about fixing this?

    Meet Common Core — sort of. The general outline of Common Core is excellent; it will create achievable standards and ensure that students not only learn the material, but comprehend and apply it to future endeavors. Likewise, its standards will allow states to save money in creating and scoring tests, because every state will use the same standards.

    But the Common Core is also expensive. It will require new tools, textbooks and technology. We’ve already seen that Arizona is unwilling to cough up the cash for its public schools.

    New standards sent down from on high are hardly going to drive the state Legislature to finally increase its per-pupil budget. That much is clear from the vociferous opposition to the standards. The Legislature hates being told what to do — by President Barack Obama and the federal government, no less.

    According to Jill Koyama, a sociocultural anthropologist in the College of Education, the development of the program — if not its content — does deserve criticism.

    “Common Core has been driven by the Gates money and the Obama administration’s insistence that for states to be eligible for the Race to the Top funding, they would need to adopt the Common Core Standards,” she said. “In the end, there was minimal educator input and public engagement in the development of Common Core.”

    The Common Core isn’t going to result in Arizona schools finally getting the increase in funding that they need. It’s just going to hurt our students and teachers who are being held to a new, higher standard without being given the tools and financial support to meet that standard.

    “States and school districts are left without much funding to align their curricula to the Common Core Standards and prepare students for the tests that accompany them, once again narrowing teaching and learning to test taking,” Koyama said.

    Arizona needs a major education makeover. While the Common Core provides inspiration for potential curriculum renovations, until Arizona can spend the money to make it work, we just aren’t ready to implement the Common Core.

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    Emilee Hoopes is a molecular & cellular biology sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.

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