Editorial: Hard Core

The New York State Assembly approved a bill last week that would delay full implementation of the new Common Core education standards and assessments. A delay is inevitable, as Governor Andrew Cuomo himself has admitted even though he supports the Common Core despite outcries from the left and right, from parents and teachers alike.

The assembly bill would give schools extra time before Common Core standards could be used to evaluate student learning and teacher effectiveness. Use of the Common Core on statewide tests last year resulted in low scores and loud protests.

The Common Core’s implementation in New York no doubt has been messy. But supporters, including Governor Cuomo, have to make it clear that the standards will, in fact, be implemented. Critics of the Common Core surely will seize on the delay as a sign of weakness and will push ahead with their campaign to do away with the Core entirely.

The governor and legislature can counteract the biggest criticism of the Core—that it’s too difficult—by spending the money necessary to make sure teachers understand the standards and know how to communicate knowledge in the best way possible. That requires training, not merely professional development.

The Common Core is an attempt to reboot education in the U.S. for the 21st century. As New York has shown, today’s students may not be ready for the challenges of this young century. That’s not necessarily their fault. Education in the U.S. has yet to be fully dragged out of the old models of the 20th century.

The first step toward reimagining a new, rigorous curriculum must be taken not in the classroom, but in Albany and in the headquarters of the state’s hundreds of school districts. There, legislators and administrators alike must provide the tangible support teachers need to help their students achieve the Core’s goals.

Delaying implementation may be a blessing if it leads to more clear-headed thinking about the Core and how New York can make it work.

But this delay, unlike those on some mass transit lines this winter, can’t last forever.

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