What about Common Core and College?

Minding the Campus has an excellent analysis of the academic impact of Common Core on higher education written by Peter Wood.  Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars.   Here’s an excerpt,

What the Common Core will do to college.

“The Common Core’s standards amount to an assault on the college curriculum. That’s because colleges will have to adapt to what the Common Core teaches–and what it fails to teach. It teaches a mechanical way of reading that is poorly suited to literature, philosophy, history, and the rest of the liberal arts.  It also fails to teach the math students need to begin a college-level curriculum in the sciences….

The Common Core will not make an appreciable number of students more “college ready.” It may smooth the way, however, for more students to be admitted to college. President Obama and Michelle Obama have recently ratcheted up the campaign that Obama announced back in his first address to Congress in February 2009–to make America the nation with the highest percentage of college graduates. The pitch that “everyone should go to college” has been a favorite of American politicians for a long time. It is, on its face, silly. To achieve anything like it would require obliterating academic standards and wasting untold trillions of dollars. But the phrase somehow strokes the national ego.

The Common Core feeds this fantasy and the illusions buried within, namely, that a college degree is a ticket to personal prosperity and that having lots of people who have college degrees necessarily makes the nation more competitive in the global economy. For reference: the nation that currently has the greatest percentage of college degrees in its population is that economic powerhouse, Russia. Moreover, the nation with the strongest economy in Europe–Germany–has about half the percentage of college-degreed people as the United States does.

So the effort to grease the skids from public school to college is founded on a mistake.  But it is a mistake that Americans somehow cherish and won’t easily relinquish.  We would go a lot further towards both a greater degree of personal prosperity and national competitiveness if we really did improve K-12 education–not with the idea of making our schools operate better as conveyor belts to our languishing higher education institutions, but with the idea of fostering a true spirit of educational achievement among students, parents, and teachers. I know.  Easier said than done.

The entire article by Wood is worth reading.