This is not a political message, although politics show up in it. It has long been my contention and stance that politics have no business in education, that if it is not 100% about the kids, then it should not be a part of the conversation.
Recently, President Obama has been making comments regarding education, comments that echo Bill Clinton's sentiments in 1992 about "work[ing] hard and play[ing] by the rules" to get ahead. I don't think anyone would argue that the first part is necessary, and most would agree that the second is also critical (although some disagree and feel rules do not apply to them - not the subject of this post), but an editorial in the New York Times suggests that there is more to it than simply working hard. After all, many people work very hard every day and seem to just spin their wheels.
These days to get ahead it is not enough to know something; to truly be successful, one needs the additional skill of adaptation and lifelong engagement in the process of learning itself. From Alvin Toffler: "In the future illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” We need to teach our children what it means to learn something, how to direct themselves and how to persist in the face of struggle with a concept, idea or problem.
It is not enough to pass the test; it is not enough to simply meet the standard, Common Core or otherwise. Any school that "reforms" itself on the premise of those two things may improve their test scores but not their students' lives.
And isn't that what learning is about?