Carrie Brown-Wolf: Why is Colorado dumbing down its schools? (column)
The state of public education in our country is in dire straights.
I’ve heard parents, teachers and principals refer to it as a broken system that will take at least a generation to fix. Colorado recently lowered its graduation standards, making me wonder why the Colorado State Board of Education would dumb down the schools at a time when we need to keep up with a competitive global economy.
In September, CSBE took social studies and science off the table for graduating seniors. Now, districts need only prove that students are competent in math and English. The logic, I suppose, behind lowering the standards is to graduate more students. If they don’t need to meet too many requirements, maybe they can earn a diploma. But how is lowering the bar helping students succeed in college, a work environment or in life?
Given the state of public education, it’s not surprising there are now over 30,000 private schools in the country. According to Education News, the number of homeschooled students has increased by 75 percent since 1999.
There are problems in the educational system that stem from poor policy decisions, such as implementing No Child Left Behind. Some would say that testing procedures and the Common Core are equally harmful to education. However, there are issues related to learning one’s ABCs that are not the fault of the schools. For example, poverty. There are other issues: Health and wellness of students (also related to poverty), bullying, crowded classrooms, a lack of proper funding, a lack of family structure and social media. Suffice it to say, education is in a state of disorder that’s bigger than graduation standards.
Who’s responsible for cleaning up the mess? Can schools solve the poverty problem? Is it the school’s responsibility to ensure that families are functional?
The school is not, in my mind, responsible for making sure my kid is healthy — that’s my job as a parent and, ultimately, my kid’s responsibility to make wise choices. It seems to me that everything is getting dumped on the schools. They can’t fix it all. What they can do is keep the standards of education high — not lower them.
Not a single Colorado school district made Niche’s top 100 list of best districts in the country, and, in a poll done by Newsweek, only 2 Colorado High Schools made the top 100 list: Colorado Early College in Ft. Collins (66) and D’evelyn (81). Perhaps what CSBE should study are the methods the other 98 schools use to graduate their seniors instead of lowering standards. Perhaps what parents can do is take responsibility for their own children’s health and well-being. Perhaps what we can do as a society is to focus on eliminating poverty. We’re in a mess, but the schools can’t do it all.
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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