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APPEL: Why Common Core?

APPEL: Why Common Core?
May 19
14:36 2014

My friends ask why I am such a passionate defender of Common Core State Standards. Why am I willing to take a stand that seemingly flies in the face of what some people believe to be a problem? Why do I allow myself to be viciously attacked by bloggers hiding behind the cover of Internet pseudonyms?

The answers to these questions find basis in my fundamental beliefs; beliefs introduced to me through education and reinforced by familial values. First, I am a natural optimist. I believe in the good of people and their infinite capacity to grow and improve their lives. This principle convinces me that all children can learn and that quality education should not just be limited to those who have won the great lottery of being born into a family with means.

I am a firm believer in the historical foundations of our country. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution states, “We the People of the United States, in Order to Form a More Perfect Union…”; it does not state just, “We the People..”. I am the son of a World War II veteran who gave fours years of his young life in defense of the proposition that we are only strong when we are united and not when we are constantly concerned about what we have and what is good for us an individuals. The Constitution was ratified because it was universally acknowledged amongst the Founding Fathers that 13 independent states (states in the absolute sense of separate countries) would never be able to succeed; that only one united nation could live up to the potential of what these people had fought to establish. The Constitution created a structure under which individual states would willingly forgo limited individual power in favor of a stronger, representative governing authority. Time has proven the adage “we are stronger united than divided” to have been a phenomenally successful decision.

My life has not been that of a politician. I started my own business forty years ago and have been dedicated to family, hard work, and self sacrifice. This personal history taught me one great rule that career politicians often ignore. The difference between my personal philosophy and theirs is that once I evaluate an issue and make a careful decision upon its merits, I will not alter my position to make my political life easier or because it would further my political ambitions. I find that too many of our leaders are far too willing to flip-flop on ideas or principles because such ideas frighten or offend one small segment of the political spectrum, or because such ideas create a politically uncomfortable situation for themselves.  This is intellectually dishonest and I will never pander to special interests by abandoning my fundamental beliefs.

Finally, the reason I support Common Core specifically is really quite simple. Louisiana is ranked 49th in educational outcomes in a country that was once the leader of the educational world, but is no more. I, and most of my legislative peers, have discounted the arguments put forth by various media personalities, special interest groups, political social climbers, and unions; those who have much to gain by promoting fear and distrust of Washington and for whom the success or failure of Louisiana’s children is secondary to their political ideology or personal goals.

Louisiana was an early leader in the design and implementation of this set of standards, standards collectively devised by 45 states because the old way of educating America’s children had clearly failed our children. Is Common Core perfect? No. Did the rollout go perfectly? No. But, what other alternative is on the horizon. None!

I support Common Core because I am totally committed to the belief that all of our children can learn and deserve the right to a fair chance to achieve success in life. I believe that we are always stronger united then when we only concentrate upon the good of the individual. I believe that the politics of fear for political or financial benefit has no place in education, the legislative process, or in our society. Finally, I believe that there is every indication that we can make Common Core work very well for our children; when we do, Louisiana has a better than even odds of delivering upon our state’s fundamental principles: Union, Justice, Confidence.

Our Nation is hurting right now. We are the victim of an ideological sickness that is an anathema to most citizens. However, we must not allow ourselves to become blinded to the current state of affairs of Louisiana’s future generations. We have an opportunity to join the vast majority of our sister states in a unified effort, created by those states, to recapture America’s educational supremacy. We must take full advantage of this opportunity and not allow our state to fall back into the cycle of ignorance and poverty.

About Author

Sen. Conrad Appel

Sen. Conrad Appel

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  1. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth May 19, 20:13

    Please keep fighting. The rollout indeed didn't go perfectly, but that is largely a reflection of the overall poor quality of our school systems, combined with the fact that the Common Core standards are just a lot harder. No "transition period" can really make it easy for a student to jump a grade in math, which is what the new math standards do by middle school. There's no way to make that transition easy.

  2. Darren Gauthier
    Darren Gauthier May 19, 20:50

    The more our GOP descends into bogey-man lunacy, the more adamant we sane folk ought to be in embracing higher standards.

  3. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth May 19, 21:12

    Darren Gauthier , it isn't "my" GOP any more. I'm resigning from the Republican State Central Committee. I'm done.

  4. Darren Gauthier
    Darren Gauthier May 19, 21:38

    Yikes. Please don't turn into one of these Charlie Crist types who suddenly embraces every plank in the Democrat party platform. As nutty as this side of the fence may be, their side is right the standard 2x a day of a broken clock and that's about it.

  5. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth May 19, 21:59

    Crist? I haven't been insulted that badly in a while. Thanks.

  6. Dale Clary
    Dale Clary May 19, 23:22

    While totally respecting that there are good minds and passionate beliefs on both sides of the Common Core issue, I think Sen. Appel misunderstands the US Constitution and the intent of the Founding Fathers. But many do. The federal power is supposed to be limited and does not include "education". In Federalist no. 45: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." That's why the Constitution limits the power of the federal government to a few, specific powers (see 10th amendment). Unfortunately, the US Supreme court has deleted the 10th amendment from the Constitution (I'm glad to supply citations and quotes). More and more people are beginning to understand that WaDC will not recognize any limitations on its power, which is why so many people are opposed to Common Core: the fear that this will allow the feds to control education, when they are not supposed to have that power. Peace.

  7. Kimberly Kunst Domangue
    Kimberly Kunst Domangue May 20, 01:15

    I appreciate the clarity and honesty of this piece, Sen. Appel. Only in the atmosphere of authenticity and selfless service can a truly democratic form of government thrive.

    As a teacher, I initially supported the CCSS. I DO TEACH THE STANDARDS IN LIGHT OF AND DESPITE THIS.
    Regarding authenticity: Authentic learning is enhanced when students are "met where they are" and are inspired and facilitated progress forward. The CCSS does not allow for this differentiated instruction because the standards are rigidly set for grade levels. In lower grades, students' mental faculties develop as a result of experiences. Growth/development follows certain sequences and patterns that sometimes cannot be accelerated due to a child's age in MONTHS, not years (think growth charting at pediatrician's office). The standards work well for middle class and above kiddos, but we will likely see data supporting the strugglers "pushed off the spiral staircase" leading to college/career-readiness.

    Regarding self-less-ness: I read a lot about yourself in your piece – your beliefs, your family, your work history. If we removed the references to "self", how much of a justifiable argument in favor of the CCSS would remain? There are educators and educational researchers who have respectfully submitted to you and our Legislature research-based reasons for halting the CCSS. Yet you make no mention of them nor give them more than cursory consideration.

    Yes, we believe in our students in Louisiana. Yes, we DO teach them with "rigor" — have since the inception of the GLEs. Were you instructed by teachers who implanted the Common Core? Were your supporters? Were your opponents? So, are they the great panacea for all our woes? No, they are not. Would you like children to achieve and succeed in Louisiana? Start by formulating public policy based upon a systems approach, understanding that as goes the well-being of the family, so goes the child. Louisiana ranks poorly because of our poverty. Is there data supporting this? Yes, but it condemns us all, liberals included, for not helping pull our brothers and sisters up to where we stand. We have been selfish. It's time to change that.

  8. Jenny Klein
    Jenny Klein May 20, 01:23

    I am totally opposed to this because of the ties to PARCC and data mining. The standards are the least of my worries. Why is the Senate adding amendments to Schroder's privacy bill? Why has this been sitting on Appel's desk for 5 weeks. Why is the Senate not wanting to protect our children's personally identifiable information? How much more of John White's sharing data (without our knowledge and consent) do we need to endure before the legislature acts? Too much has gone on that has me believing just about everyone in the federal and state government is corrupted and only out for themselves.

  9. Stephanie Hocke Riley
    Stephanie Hocke Riley May 20, 20:42

    If CC really was just a set of standards, and wasn't being pushed by our big brother government, this would be a whole other conversation. Our federal government is slowly killing this nation. I won't stand by and give my children's education to them as well. Louisiana CAN do it better. Mr. Appel, stop making it sound as if the citizens of Louisiana aren't intelligent enough to do this without CC! And start placing more responsibility where it belongs – in the home! Parents who use the school system as a babysitting service – a very large number… Why are politicians afraid to point the finger in that direction??

  10. Missouri Education Watchdog
    Missouri Education Watchdog May 21, 01:56

    Where in the Constitution does it give private companies the right to establish educational direction/development for states with no voter/legislative accountability?

    What other alternative is available? Maybe the novel thought that your state educational agency be held accountable to establish high standards? Why is a senator who allegedly committed to constitutional principles willing to turn education over to a centralized agency? Does he think that Washington DC knows better what Louisiana students need to learn?

    He discounts special interest groups who don't like CCSS. Would he please name me JUST ONE group supporting CCSS that doesn't get Bill Gates funding to push the standards? Does he have any pause when those Bill Gates funded groups cannot produce one piece of data/research proving its theories?

  11. Twomey Turner
    Twomey Turner May 21, 15:32

    Soundin like a Democrat there ol buddy; maybe you're in the wrong party. Education is specifically *not* included as a federal or collectivist obligation in the founding papers. If you think it should now be, well that's fine, but that's what Democrats do.

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