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This Toxic Standards Fight Isn’t Helping Students

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Kevin P. Chavous
Education Week
April 11th, 2014

The late, noted civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer summed it up best when she said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Although she was voicing her discontent with racial inequality in Mississippi nearly five decades ago, I can relate to her sentiment today when I think about the recent debate within the education reform community concerning the Common Core State Standards. We reformers are in this battle to change the status quo, to focus on students and results, rather than systems and processes.

I respect education policy debate and discussion, but the division and bickering around the standards has me “sick and tired.” Not only are we embroiled in a growing verbal death match, but partisan politics has once again taken precedence over doing what’s right for kids. I see this firsthand as I travel from state to state, discussing education reform and the importance of educational choice with legislators and local community leaders. Increasingly, where one stands on the common-core debate is a new political litmus test akin to one’s political party bona fides.

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