I respond here to one of several points Marc Tucker made in a response to Marion Brady, published in Ed Week. Below is an excerpt from Tucker’s article, followed by my response. (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2012/09/8_problems_with_the_common_core_state_standards_i_dont_think_so.html)
(Marion Brady) says, this focus on standards is misplaced. We should instead be focused on the poverty so many of our students live in, “a level of childhood poverty the consequences of which no amount of schooling can effectively counter.” I agree that the level of poverty among children in this country is a national disgrace and that it takes an enormous toll on the capacity of our schools to educate our children. But this is not, in my opinion, a good reason to abandon standards. The contrary is true; it is more important now than ever to have standards–high standards. The United States is more inclined than many other countries to have very low expectations for students from low-income families. As the proportion of low-income families increases, the expectations for students decline. When expectations decline, the curriculum becomes less challenging, and students learn less as a result. The antidote is higher expectations, which will be set by higher standards. The absence of standards just facilitates and validates lowered expectations. Schools may not be able to do much about poverty, but they can do something about standards for student achievement.
Marc Tucker argues that high standards are very important for children of poverty, in order to avoid low expectations.
Children of poverty suffer from insufficient nutrition, insufficient health care and lack to access books. All of these have a huge negative impact on school performance, as demonstrated by many many studies (eg Berliner’s work, our work on libraries and access to books).
You can have the best standards and best teaching in the world, and it won’t matter if children are hungry, ill, and have nothing to read.
The money we are preparing to spend on standards, and their spawn, tests, should be used to protect children from the impact of poverty.
Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.
Krashen, S., Lee, SY., and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1)? 26-36.