Election Coverage: The Common Core Initiative

Written By: Paola Amaya and Brittany Wright

As we quickly approach election day, there is much to ask Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about their views on the Common Core State Standard Initiative and their plans to improve the public school system.

The Common Core State Standard Initiative is a national set of high-quality academic standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. It outlines what a student should know and be able to do by the end of each grade.

“Common Core does not teach teachers how to teach each subject. Common Core is given to the teacher and they must make lesson plans [on their own] to make sure all students understand,” says Alana Singh, 20, Education major at York College and resident of Jamaica, Queens.

Common Core was created to ensure that all students graduate high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, in a career, and in life. However, its standardized tests partially judge teachers on the test results of their students.

According to The Federalist, an online magazine, teacher support for the Common Core State Standards dropped from 76 percent to 40 percent from 2013 to 2015.

“Following many right wing conservatives,” says Dr. Michael Sharpe, a Political Science Professor at York College, “If Trump is elected he will work to eliminate Common Core and if Clinton is elected she will work to strengthen it.”

“It’s one thing what candidates promise and another the real outcome given the push and pull of politics.” –Professor Shape, York CUNY.

Donald Trump, Republican candidate, has been quoted calling the Common Core curriculum, “a disaster,” and claims “it does not work.” He has pledged to do away with the standards if elected.

“Many U.S. conservatives [such as Trump] argue that education is a matter for the states and not the federal government, but we have seen conservatives use the power of the federal government to get what they want. For example, Bush’s “No Child Left Behind”,” says Sharpe.

“More power should be held by teachers and principals as far as policies and how schools should be run,” says Kenneth Rivers, 50, resident of Brooklyn, and public school teacher at a school he would rather not disclose, “I feel politicians don’t spend enough money or time on education,” he adds.

According to an Oklahoma Newspaper, Tulsa World, Trump says bringing education, “to the local level” will immediately boost student performance. Trump has proposed reallocating an unspecified $20 billion in his first budget as president into state school choice programs so that students and their parents may able to select the school they wish to attend, whether public, private, or charter.

When asked if she had hopes for an improvement and how much confidence she had in claimed plans of the current presidential candidates, Singh, York College student says, “Though both candidates say they may improve the educational system, I doubt it. It will just be another cycle. Education gets cut. Teachers are fired.”

During an interview in April, Newsday, Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton said she believes education is a matter for the federal government. The former secretary of state and U.S. senator also called for new spending to improve classrooms, increase teachers’ salaries and add computer science programs in schools.

“It’s one thing what candidates promise and another the real outcome given the push and pull of politics. One wonders the true impact of the upcoming presidential election on the education system,” says Sharpe, political science professor.

According to Clinton’s website, she has always supported national standards and states that a common set of standards by which we can judge all schools is necessary, so that everyone may have high-quality education, regardless of the zip code they live in.

“A good thing about the Common Core is that it tries to standardize [education] throughout the nation. Helping students who move from state to state not struggle to catch up,” says Rivers, teacher of 25 years.

In her interview with Newsday, Clinton says it is up to district-elected officials, parents and teachers to measure the national standards of education in order see how effective it is.

“As opposed to Trump, I think Hillary will improve education.” says Jade Connan, 19, Hillary supporter and undecided major at The New School in Manhattan. “We must give Common Core more time. It will take time to get all schools on the same level of success.”

Rivers says, “I don’t think too much in the education system is going to change, no matter who is elected.”

Trump has repeatedly blamed the Democratic Party for having trapped millions of African-American and Hispanic youth in failing government schools that deny them the opportunity to climb the ladder of American success.

One of the biggest differences between the two candidates is in how they would spend, or cut, taxpayer money when it comes to the Department of Education.

On her website, Clinton outlines plans to make pre-K nationwide, community colleges tuition-free, and college debt-free as well as improve technology in schools. Meanwhile, reports say Trump would look to cut the Department of Education’s funding by millions.

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