APPEL: Why Common Core?

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.

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