Common Core is destroying LAUSD education

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.

6 replies
  1. Jay Murray
    Jay Murray says:

    Under ideal conditions it takes 7 years for an English Language Leaner to catch up with a native English speaker. Considering 80% of LAUSD students are ELL students and considering most LAUSD students live in less than ideal conditions many with no support from a non English speaking parent, applying Common Core to LAUSD students is nuts. Common Core was developed with the assumption that students had age level English skills. That’s fine if the student lives in a lilly white state but not in a state like California and definitely not in a city like Los Angeles.

  2. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    LAUSD had already destroyed education in Los Angeles way before Common Core became the standard. Is just that CC is making it worse.

  3. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    Sarah’s concern for the sad performance of LAUSD students is understandable. But it is unclear how Common Core and the subsequent testing are at fault. If Common Core is not the teaching standard, what should be? And if current testing produces invalid results, then what should the testing be?

    Sarah writes “LAUSD, however, can revamp by increasing after-school programs and mentorships that enforce the likelihood of achieving student success…” That may be helpful. But who will fund these programs? And who will volunteer to be these “mentors?”

    I mentored children years ago in a USC volunteer program. My group mentored at a jr. high near the campus. It was terribly demoralizing. Because, perhaps, of their non-parenting parents and their poor environments, I found to my dismay that few of the children we tried to mentor could read. Worse yet, virtually all seemed to be of low intelligence. They were not ESL migrants, either. The sincere mentoring of our group could not make up for their terrible upbringing.

    It is common to blame the parents in such cases. Parents? What parents? All too often the (usually unmarried) mom has escaped into crack and maybe prostitution, and dad is completely absent; that is, if mom even knows who was the biological father of her children. If raised at all, it is all too often a gang that raises such children.

    So what can be done? I don’t know. I can’t even imagine a plausible remedy. I’m sorry to say, maybe nothing can be done. Maybe our culture has fallen to such a state that it can only continue to decline further.

    • 36XYZ
      36XYZ says:

      Intervention must occur at an early age between pre-kindergaten and first grade. After that, it is usually too late. LAUSD is not in the business of educating its poorest students, but rather excels in siphoning public funds into the deep pockets of favored contractors. It is unforgivable that the DOJ and other oversight organizations have not shut down this criminal cartel.

      • Don Harmon
        Don Harmon says:

        OK, XYZ. You may be right. I confess ignorance on the subject. I found the information quoted below. Please comment if it appears accurate. If Common Core is a scam to divert state money to favorite contractors, then 1) who are the contractors in CA or other states, and 2) who are the corrupt state officials enriching them?

        And I repeat my earlier questions: If Common Core is not a sound teaching standard, what should replace it? Likewise, if Common Core testing produces invalid results, then what should the testing be?

        “The Common Core is an educational standard in the US specifying what K–12 students should know in English and mathematics at the end of each grade. Common Core seeks to establish educational standards for all states and to ensure that graduating seniors in high school are ready for college, or to enter the workforce. Common Core is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.”

        • 36XYZ
          36XYZ says:

          I was referring specifically to LAUSD, not common core, although companies do benefit from CCSS as well, particularly, Pearson. LAUSD is controlled by billionaire “philanthropist”, Eli Broad who is in the process of charterizing (privatizing) schools in the district. There is no current oversight or fiscal accountability for charter schools. LAUSD is ridding the district of veteran teachers through bogus below standards evaluations as well as unfounded criminal-type allegations. The money saved on teaachers’ pensions and benefit plans will be diverted to charter schools and hedge fund managers which is all the rage on Wall Street these days. John Deasy, Mr. Broad’s number one boy has publicly stated that teachers are no good to him after 5 years in the classroom. LAUSD is well on its way to replacing their administrators with graduates from Broad’s unaccredited superintendents academy. Although there is some value to the common core, many teachers lack the basic intellectual capacity and/or training to teach the standards properly. I worked for many years in a school nearby the USC campus and know this to be a fact. The smarter balanced assessments are an exercise in failure as many teachers are unable to pass the tests, so how can they possibly teach students? I do believe that poor children of color in LAUSD are being deliberately trained at a young age to experience failure so that they will lack motivation and not question the ever expanding inequality which is at the root of poverty in the US, especially in Los Angeles. An educated proletariat is very dangerous to the powers who exploit the masses. Sorry for the rant, but as always, the truth is more horrible than most can imagine.

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