The national implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCLS) has triggered outrage, and has elevated a Tennessee high school student's video critical of the new standards, to viral status.
Ethan Young, a student at Farragut High School in Knox County, Tenn., delivered a detailed argument at a public school board meeting. His arguments included somewhat tired rhetoric comparing the new national standards to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. He also detailed some research into the origins of the common core curriculum.
Young criticizes the way a group of unelected educational testing executives used funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the standards. He also explains how most academic experts, and particularly literary scholars, have doubts about the core.
Young's more compelling arguments, however, stem from his obvious personal investment in his school and his teachers.
It is apparent that Young cares very much about his educational environment and has done a great deal of research to understand the changes that will be taking place in regards to the common core curriculum. He is also invested in the success of his teachers, and mentions their "freedom to teach" and "self-esteem." Young explains that he wants to be part of an educational community that "frees minds," rather than one that creates "robots" who will spend their lives focused solely on work and banal tasks.
And while young makes some strong arguments, he also shows precisely why reforms like the common core are necessary.
New standards aren't really about students like Ethan Young or schools like the one he attends. Instead, they are aimed at forcing students who have no respect for teachers or any interest in learning to accomplish something — anything — during their years in school. The common core evaluates teachers not because of dedicated staff who "fight for their students," but rather to force apathetic teachers to make some effort in the classroom.
Young is the product of an American school that is thriving, but many students' schools are in disarray. While the common core is not perfect, it holds everyone to a consistent standard. Taken as a whole, the new common core requirements are necessary to save schools and students that have given up.