In 1970 a high school diploma implied that the graduate had mastered basic arithmetic, could read and write a coherent paragraph demonstrating comprehension of what they'd read and possessed some knowledge of basic science. Maybe not enough to be admitted to Harvard or UC Berkeley but certainly enough to begin to build a middle class life – an auto mechanic, building trades apprentice, chef, miner, farmer, police officer, fireman, US military member or factory worker. Fast forward to 2016 there are still hundreds of careers that can be built on a 1970s high school education including new careers like network administrator or computer programmer -- jobs that pay +/- $70K or more a year – after only about a year of technical training. The problem is that a high school diploma in 2016 does not require the same mastery of basic math, English, science and civics as it did in 1970.
Over the last 40 years instead of nurturing our students, we’ve been nurturing our teachers unions. Albert Shanker, American Federated Teachers (AFT) President 1974-1998, is reputed to have declared "when schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children”. Teachers’ union dues became a guarantee of job security regardless of performance.
Elected member of Campbell school board told me she couldn’t “tell” me “what Common Core is” except to say it had something to do with more oral communication, more oral reports delivered by the kids in front of their classmates. Common Core begins in August,2013 - Amazing! Unbelievable! Scary!