Common Core equals common sense

As a state with one of the most conservative governments in the union, there are certain bedrock philosophies in which Tennesseans believe.

One of those is that local government is the best government. On the whole, we’d rather have decisions made in Nashville rather than Washington. On top of that, we’d rather have decisions made in Morristown, Dandridge or Rogersville than in Nashville.

For most situations, we believe that philosophy has served us well. But, as with anything in life, there are those who take it too far, who are too rigid and allow their philosophy to trump common sense.

There are situations, albeit not many, that need to be handled on a larger scale than we can find within the borders of Hamblen County, the Lakeway Area and even Tennessee. There are places where the advantages of being a country of united states can only be fully reached when we are, in fact, united.

The military is an obvious example of this, but there are others.

We must be careful not to become too self-contained within the perimeters of our own philosophy. We must not, to borrow from the cliché, allow ourselves to miss the forest for the trees.

Such is the case with Common Core State Standards, which is essentially the effort to level the educational goals within participating states across the country. The initiative is designed so that a parent, or a college administrator or potential employer, can securely know that an A-student in Tennessee is on par with any other A-student in the nation.

It is designed to help schools systems provide students with the educational base to compete with the top-achieving students from around the world

There are those, however, who cannot get past the idea of education standards being developed outside their state’s borders. They are making pushes to rescind the CCSS in several states. In fact, Tennessee is convening State Senate hearings in Nashville to discuss the Common Core.

But it is important that we remain masters of our own political philosophy, not beholden to it. We must recognize that there are times that even while we remain Tennesseans and citizens of our local communities, we are also Americans and our collective success as a country depends on us setting aside regional differences.

It’s important that our local educators maintain local control, but the CCSS, which was joined voluntarily not as a mandate from Washington, proves no threat to local control. It does not set curriculum, rather the CCSS just gives each state the finish line, explaining that these are the educational benchmarks that must be met in order for us to consider our students well educated.

In the workplace of tomorrow, our children will be competing against those from other states. But in the bigger pictures, Tennesseans, Georgians, New Yorkers and Californians – or as we far too rarely consider ourselves, Americans – will be competing in a global marketplace filled with educational systems that didn’t bog down with matters of ideology and instead set about getting the job done.

Yes, local government is the best government but don’t be fooled. Our local leaders and our state leaders saw that by banding together with educators from other states, by agreeing to a common core of education, we will all benefit. We will band together collectively to return our country’s education system to its rightful place among the world’s finest.

And that’s as American as it gets.

Posted on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 10:50 am