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Back to school – and new common standards?

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Consider the consequences of not acting and maintaining the status quo. Since 1980, the educational gap between low-income students and their higher income peers has grown wider every year, as measured by standardized test scores, high school graduation, college-going and college-graduation rates. Continuing on this course is the equivalent of “national suicide,” as columnist David Brooks put it in The New York Times last month.

The common core standards would level the playing field and show that low-income children matter. Those Kentucky students – and children from thousands of other school systems nationwide – would all be taught the same content in algebra and calculus, and even better, they would build the foundation in earlier grades for algebra, considered a gateway to academic rigor and college success.

When we insist on the same educational attainment from kids who grow up in our poorest communities as from their peers in suburbs like Greenwich, Conn., Highland Park, Texas, and Winnetka, Ill., we usher in the New American Dream.

Consider the impact of raising scores or increasing the proportion of US citizens with college degrees. A Stanford University study projected that an average increase of 5 percent in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores would lead to a gain of nearly $1 trillion annually in the US economy. Significant increases in college attainment would have a similar economic impact.

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