Common Core & Ft Bragg

When I had the opportunity to speak at NCGA's Education hearing on the Common Core (CC), one of the points I made was that having the same expectations nation-wide was not a Communist plot but merely common sense. My family moved a lot during my childhood. Although we were not a military family, in 12 years of public education I attended 10 schools in 4 states. I asked the committee to consider the children of our military families, who move every couple of years and said, keep in mind recent announcements regarding a major down-sizing of the US Military--Do not give base closure committees yet another reason to close any of our military bases by rejecting the Common Core. Especially as the DOD had already adopted CC standards for all DOD schools.

Now we have a new report from the Mission: Readiness committee. (Emphasis mine.)

The report, “Keeping Our Families and Our Country Strong,” references the impact of low student achievement and low high school graduation rates on the military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. It also urges continued implementation of the North Carolina standards, which were developed by teachers, subject matter experts and state education leaders to establish the mathematics and English language arts skills and knowledge students must achieve at each grade level.

The retired military leaders view the standards as a critical force for accountability among North Carolina schools, which educate more than 59,000 children….. While the U.S. Department of Defense adopted the Common Core State Standards – which are aligned with the North Carolina standards – for schools run on military installations, nearly 80 percent of children from military families attend local public schools near the installations.

Chief of Staff of the Army, General Ray Odierno, directed a study of the performance of public schools near military posts in 2014 because the Army is considering the quality of these schools as one criteria for future force restructuring decisions....

“If they (states) want to keep the military in their communities, they’d better start paying attention to the schools that are outside and inside our installations, because as we evaluate and as we make decisions on future force structure, that will be one of the criteria,” General Odierno said in an August 2014 Military Times story on the impact of student achievement on base closures.

(This) report is particularly relevant to North Carolina given its focus on schools around Fort Bragg. The majority of the Cumberland County high schools cited in the report rank within the lowest 1st to 25th percentile in both academic performance and graduation rates.

The retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness view continued implementation of the North Carolina Career and College Ready Standards as a vital force for improving these schools, and to the success of students from military families who attend them.

The retired military leaders also strongly support the standards based on recruiting challenges and on the needs of children from military families.

From a recruiting standpoint, rigorous academic standards are important because approximately 72 percent of North Carolina’s 17-to-24-year-olds are ineligible for military service, primarily because they are academically unqualified, are physically unfit, or have a criminal record. Nearly one in four (23 percent) of young adults from North Carolina who had high school diplomas could not pass the military entrance exam that tests mathematics, literacy and critical thinking skills.

The standards also support academic continuity for children from military families, most of whom move between multiple states during their K-12 years and are therefore disadvantaged without consistency in standards and assessments among school districts and states.

“Low academic achievement at schools around our military installations spells double trouble for military families, first because our children might not be getting the education they need for college and careers, and second because they might not be qualified for military service even though children in military families have a higher propensity to serve,” said Rear Admiral Steven Ratti, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.).

The Mission: Readiness report was issued days after the March 16th meeting of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC), which is reviewing the standards and considering if changes are needed.

“As the Commission takes a close look at the content of these standards, we urge them also to keep the context and full impact of the standards in mind,” said Rear Admiral Walter Cantrell, U.S. Navy (Ret.). “These standards are essential for ensuring more students are college- and career-ready when they graduate from high school, but they do not tell teachers how to teach, or specify a curriculum. These decisions are left up to schools and teachers themselves, in keeping with North Carolina’s tradition of local control in education."

As of 2011, Fort Bragg alone had an economic impact of $10.9 billion-with-a-B.

Our own Department of Commerce has reported:

Overall, the economic impact model estimates that the military supports roughly 10 percent of
North Carolina’s economy.
• The military supports 540,000 jobs in North Carolina, $30 billion in state personal income, and
$48 billion in gross state product.
• 340,000 of military-supported jobs occur in the private sector.
• Professional and Technical Services, Administrative and Waste Services, and Construction are
the top three military-supported private industry sectors.

It may turn out that the Academic Standards Review Committee will reach the conclusion that the 'highest possible standards' for our NC schools ARE the Common Core Standards. Despite Sen Tom TIllis proclamation, "That Won't Happen."



Not only that

but it goes beyond economics and determining where military bases are located. It's also about having well educated defenders of our country.

"There is a national security imperative," Ratti [from the same report cited by Vicki] said.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

As a former Army recruiter,

I can safely say finding qualified applicants is a much bigger challenge than most people believe. My numbers were something like 1 in 10. That's people who we found (by phone calls or canvassing) who were interested or those who just walked in the door.

Even those who simply wanted to join the Infantry had to meet a certain standard of math & verbal skills, and I even had a couple of guys who were (4 year) college graduates who barely squeaked by.

Needless to say, Sergeant Steve was very stressed out... ;)

Just the Facts, Ma'am...

Just the facts, ma'am…
Just the facts, on Common Core.

The effort was developed by governors and state school chiefs from both parties who were concerned that too many graduates were leaving high school unprepared for college or their first jobs.

The standards spell out what reading, math and critical thinking skills students should grasp, while leaving how those skills are mastered up to local school districts and states.

The hope: Higher standards shared across state lines would allow comparable student performance measures and smoother school-to-school transition for children who move, such as military kids. And that could save money, because it's cheaper for states to collaborate in developing standards and associated tests than for each to do its own.

President Barack Obama's administration backed the standards and developed incentives. Primarily, states had to adopt Common Core or similar standards if they wanted to get out of some of the onerous federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind law -- which many do. That's the root for the exaggerated, but not baseless, claims about Washington shaping education policy.

Common Core is a national initiative, but one that began with states working together. There is no federal law that a new president could ask Congress to repeal.

Common Core is an approach to teaching, not a mandate on what to teach, and it does not come with a required reading list.