We were fans of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind law only to the degree that it finally set an expectation of accountability for every public school in the nation. It was based on the notion that a generously funded school in Hinsdale and an inadequately funded school in Maywood should both be measured and that educators and communities should be held accountable for growth in education levels.
That NCLB did nothing to even out local school funding made any pretense of equality simple nonsense. NCLB put extraordinary emphasis on standardized testing and created a national culture of teaching to the test rather than teaching students how to think and learn. NCLB had a presumption of perpetually rising test scores that was simple hubris.
So now, with the lessons of NCLB partially learned, we have shifted our national educational aspirations to a much more thoughtful program known as Common Core. Its premise is simple: All students should be taught and gradually be expected to master a shared curriculum which focuses on reading, writing and math scores.
The program has a certain retro simplicity with the advantages of technology to allow constant and affirming measurement of individual student progress.
Forest Park’s public elementary schools have been out front in adopting the Common Core standards. More impressively though, the schools have focused on spreading the goals, the training, the communication out through principals, teachers and parents.
It is an impressive effort and one that we believe will blossom in this district’s classrooms with a dedicated staff and high teacher to student ratios. If Common Core can take hold anywhere it can be in Forest Park.