From its inception, the United States has prided itself on the idea of American Exceptionalism; a concept encompassing the notion that America is superior to every other country in the world, stemming from the American Revolution and progressing as America became recognized as the world’s oldest democracy. Recently, our education system has been far from exceptional. In fact, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States dropped 11 points in PISA math scores, as well as stagnating in reading and writing in 2015. The United States scored 20 points lower than the OECD national average in math, while only eclipsing the OECD national averages in reading and writing by 4 and 3 points respectively. Throughout the past election cycle, fixing and amending Common Core Standards was a bipartisan campaign promise due to the intense criticism it has faced from grassroots organizations composed of parents, educators, and students as well as politicians, celebrities, and others who have spoken out in disapproval of the hastily implemented standards.
The Common Core Standards are the Obama Administration’s attempt to reform the American education system, and they’ve been adopted by forty-five states since their creation in 2009. Since their adoption, they’ve cost the United States government over $15.8 billion, averaging $379 per student across these forty-five states. In Rhode Island, the average per student is $406, eclipsing the national average by $27 despite yielding progressively poorer test scores since their installation. A survey showed that less than 40% of students nationally were prepared for college after exposure to the Common Core Standards, and results of NAEP testing showed minor improvements for certain states, as well as consistently poor performances in literacy and math.
Although other liberal governors, such as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, have installed bipartisan committees to reform and alter the Common Core Standards, Governor Gina Raimondo believes that Common Core Standards are working fantastically. In a 2016 interview, Governor Raimondo even suggested that the SAT is “a better test than it used to be” because it’s been fixed to reflect the Common Core Standards, and went as far as suggesting that she’s open to using the SAT as an exit exam for high school students. This is a preposterous claim from a politician that prides herself on education reform because most prominent educators believe the SAT should be removed from the college application process altogether. Progressively, more and more colleges across America are becoming “test optional” because they recognize that most students are not accurately represented by their scores on a heavily weighted, and often discriminatory, test.
It’s clear that something in Rhode Island’s education system has to change; in 2015, only 38% of Rhode Island students scored proficiently in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test in English Language Arts, while only a meager 30% were proficient in mathematics. Governor Raimondo’s initiatives lack the same common sense that the Common Core Standards do, and the only way to reform education in Rhode Island is through common sense conservative leadership and that all starts with voting red in 2018.