Against the Odds: the Common Core Is Leveling the Playing Field for Latino Students

By Leticia de la Vara

Once again it’s back-to-school season and in my family that means a seventh-grade daughter and more than a little bit of eye rolling from her. This also means another year of the Common Core State Standards at her school.

I could explain the Common Core to you, but the Council for Great City Schools has put together an excellent short video that explains what it is.

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As a single mother with a Latina attending school in a city, I am well aware of the statistics stacked against my daughter’s success.

Here’s what she’s up against:

  • Only 71% of Latino students graduate from high school on time with a traditional diploma.
  • This is compared to 83% and 93% of their White and Asian peers.

This low graduation rate undercuts the increasing demand for highly educated and trained individuals who can compete in today’s global economy. As a result, a disproportionate number of Latinos are left unprepared for college and unqualified for good jobs. This is why the switch to the Common Core was music to my ears. The Common Core framework allows for my daughter to rise above statistics by allowing her teachers to create lesson plans and classroom activities that more closely model real-life situations and also allow her teachers to more quickly assess areas to focus on for each child’s individual success.

My daughter’s school began implementing the Common Core last year and I quickly noticed a difference in my daughter’s study habits. It was clear to me that an emphasis was being placed on understanding the process, or the “why,” behind how things are done, a fundamental part of everyday experience. Before the Common Core, classrooms moved children through rote memorization and recitation, regurgitating information rather than processing or analyzing. Yet in college and work we are constantly faced with situations that require us to think up solutions—even more so for children. It’s comforting, as a mother, to know that schools are making a shift that will impact my daughter’s success in the future.

As another school year begins, I’m excited to know that schools across the country are allowing children to embrace their natural curiosity and use it as a cornerstone to educational achievement.

CCSS_Share_01I believe in the potential for the Common Core to create a more equitable K–12 experience for our children. But as raising children will teach you, change doesn’t happen overnight. That is why I am fully committed to supporting my daughter, her teacher, and her school with the Common Core State Standards. It’s time to step up to the challenge of overhauling the education system and step into a new way of learning. We all have a role to play. Parents, students, teachers, and the community should support standards that will improve opportunities for Latino youth and prepare them for the world of tomorrow.

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