Support for Common Core strong in U.S. military

Eric Owens | Editor

Sometimes, it seems like the Common Core State Standards Initiative has little support outside the D.C. Beltway and the analogous beltways in various state capitals.

Opposition to the attempt by governors, bureaucrats and wonky educrats to standardize various K-12 curricula has risen sharply, bringing together conservatives who are opposed to a federal takeover of public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.

There is, however, at least one group that heartily endorses the Common Core: the United States military.

There are a couple major reasons.

The first reason is the expectation that the Common Core will, in fact, standardize education for the better in the 45 states (and the District of Columbia) which began implementing it this fall. The Pentagon’s education department — Department of Defense Education Activity — has also adopted the Common Core.

“Most military children will move at least twice during their high school years and will attend six to nine different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade,” according to the National Military Family Association.

The relocations often occur in the middle of the school year. Military kids can find themselves way behind in a subject — particularly math and science — or bored out of their minds repeating stuff they’ve already learned. They can also end up missing critical concepts entirely.

“Instead of having no idea where 6th grade math is when you move from Norfolk to San Diego, a common set of standards means you should be able to get on track in a new school much faster than when states had different standards,” explained education consultant Dave Saba on the National Math + Science Initiative Blog.

Common Core advocates in the military also argue that a uniform curriculum will improve living conditions for military personnel.

“The perceived quality of local schools can determine which duty station a service member volunteers for, whether the family accompanies the service member or stays behind, and where a family chooses to live in their new community,” suggests the National Military Family Association.” School quality will impact whether a family chooses to spend their financial resources on private schools or considers homeschooling options. It can even influence a family’s decision to remain in the service.”

The second big reason military types tend to be high on the Common Core is the belief that the new standards will lead to better-educated soldiers and, therefore, a better national security apparatus.

“Nationally, 30 percent of high school students cannot pass the U.S. military entrance exam, which measures basic reading and math school. More than four in 10 young African-Americans have not been passing that exam,” noted Major General Terry M. Haston in The Murfreesboro Post. “The security needs of our nation demand a high level of military preparedness, and we must be able to recruit soldiers who can succeed in our challenging environment.”

A nonpartisan organization of senior retired military leaders called Mission: Readiness makes a similar argument.

“The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) can help ensure that students are receiving a high-quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state, so that all students, no matter where they live, or how often they move to a new school, are prepared for success in postsecondary education, the workforce and the military, if they choose to serve,” the group has said.

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