Despite efforts to revamp the K-12 education system in Los Angeles, new standardized test results released by the California Department of Education have shown that Los Angeles Unified School District is suffering the most, with only 33 percent of students achieving target goals for math and 25 percent in English, according to the Los Angeles Times. And it seems — though the topic is highly contested — that Common Core is the underlying root of the issue at hand.
To USC students: If you consider the future of the workforce, the educational system for your children and the state of the economy, you’ll take this issue to heart. Angelenos are at the center of an educational crisis, but due to a failed program and the exhaustive efforts of politicians in support of a hollow program, students in LAUSD will in fact continue to suffer.
For the past several decades, the graduation rate in Los Angeles, specifically within LAUSD, has been strikingly low. It’s been so horrifying that LAUSD’s model of low retention, high dropout rates and low graduation rates are often used as examples of failed school districts. Even so, however, policy leaders in the state of California have implemented Common Core, unknowingly taking into consideration the full circle of ramifications that will follow generations of young, hard-working Angelenos, many of whom are part of a low to middle-class income tax bracket and part of a working minority. But after a tired trend of students performing well below their grade level, it’s clear that programs such as the Common Core are simply not feasible.
The Common Core program truly hurts the students it seeks to help. Though it strives to enforce and ensure a sense of security in terms of college readiness, what it really does in less affluent communities — with high schools known for low retention rates — is push students further away from achieving success.
Imagine asking a five-year-old child to ride his or her first bike with training wheels, then removing them without any notice two weeks later. The child would feel inadequate because the parent would most likely reprimand him or her for not understanding how to ride the bike without the training wheels. Not only is it impractical for the young child to quickly adapt to the changing surroundings, but it is also inconsiderate to expect the child would be able to do so. Throwing on the training wheels and quickly replacing them with real wheels never adequately prepared the child, but only made him or her fear using the new skills, him or her feel incompetent in a changing environment.
This sitation is what students in K-12 are facing across 42 states. In LAUSD, many students who are bilingual or participate in an English as a Second Language program will struggle with the burdens to prepare for college-level thinking and heavy analysis of societal issues at the age of six or seven. Common Core is not a cure-all — the curriculum isn’t flexible, it is not reasonable and it sure isn’t practical. Students should be prepared for success in a feasible manner that allows them to build upon learned skills. In the case of LAUSD, adopting Common Core will stray students even further away because of low pass rates and fear of inadequacy.
During the summer, many proponents of Common Core explained that the shift in curriculum for K-12 educators across the 42 states which have implemented the program have, in fact, produced better test results — but these results were later disproven by results released by the Department of Education. And more in-depth studies of student progress doled out within the past month reveal underlying issues with the new curriculum as students cannot adapt to the critical thinking-framed questions. But Common Core is just the beginning of the downward spiral for K-12 education, and it will continue to go south until educators, politicians and leaders recognize this default pattern of failure.
The overall drop in expected pass rates for students in K-12 this year in comparison to last displays a stark contrast between an already failing program to an extremely terrifying program. LAUSD, however, can revamp by increasing after-school programs and mentorships that enforce the likelihood of achieving student success. Students must be encouraged by their teachers and schoolwork. Common Core does the opposite. With the continued support of such a program, students in LAUSD will continue to drop out and the district will continue to be the model for a failed educational system.
Sarah Dhanaphatana is a junior majoring in political science. She is also the deputy features editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Dhanapolitics,” runs Fridays.