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Do the Common Core State Standards promote citizenship?

THURSDAY, MAY 08, 2014 12:19 PM

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed around 2008 and launched in 2009. Since then, 44 states have adopted the Standards, using them to create curricula. Most people may understand that the CCSS attempt to promote an educational approach that goes deep rather than wide and shallow. However, some argue the Standards have other benefits as well.

The Common Core: A retrospective
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) together formed the Common Core, along with the help of educators and parents. The collaborative group began creating the standards after the NCA chair started a new education initiative. According to U.S. News & World Report, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano was the NGA chair from 2006 to 2007, and like other chairs before her, she created an initiative (or set of goals) for the group to accomplish. Improving math and science education was the main focus of her initiative. 

"The more she thought about it, she came to the conclusion that America couldn't lead the world in innovation and remain being competitive if we didn't have an internationally competitive education system," Dane Linn, a vice president of the Business Roundtable, told the source.

That idea became the core mission of the Standards: to better prepare students for college and their careers, and to make American education more globally competitive by improving the instruction of math, science and reading. 

Educating good citizens
The Common Core State Standards is not a curricula, just a set of educational goals for students to achieve by the end of each grade level. As such, individual states select which texts students will read. However, the Common Core does require that all students study three documents: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble and Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. According to The Atlantic, the fact that students must study these texts exemplifies the way in which the CCSS promote American citizenship and democratic responsibility. 

Strong and active citizens know how to analyze their system of government and decide whether current decisions measure up to the values of the country. In order to do this, students must know how to think critically, a skill the CCSS prioritizes. 

While these features are enough to cause some to believe that the Standards promote citizenship, others are not convinced. According to The Washington Post, although teachers could adopt the Common Core to achieve goals of citizenship preparation, the Standards themselves don't necessarily ensure students will develop into active members of society.