By Marc Morial
“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”
— Mary McLeod Bethune
This week, the National Urban League released a new survey that shows overwhelming support from one of the most important, but rarely heard, voices in the roiling and often distorted debate over Common Core State Standards — African American parents.
Our survey of 1,600 African American public school parents found that 60 percent of respondents have a favorable impression of the new Common Core State Standards in English language arts and math that have now been adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia.
Sixty-eight percent of surveyed parents believe that Common Core will improve student achievement, and 66 percent believe it will better prepare their children for college or the workforce. The survey also shows that a majority of parents believe what the National Urban League believes as well — that Common Core standards offer great potential for transformative educational excellence, but only if parents are pro-actively engaged, teachers are adequately trained and resources for schools and students are equitably disbursed.
Given the history and current state of unequal education in America, many African American parents are rightly concerned that their children not be shortchanged by an inequitable implementation of Common Core. A majority of respondents (58 percent) agree that the school their child attends lacks the resources and facilities to effectively teach Common Core State Standards, and 54 percent agree that teachers are not prepared to teach the standards.
Those numbers jumped to 64 percent and 62 percent, respectively, for parents with children enrolled in predominately African American schools. This underscores the importance of ongoing efforts to ensure that students in all schools have the resources to learn and teachers have the resources to effectively teach the Common Core.
While the National Urban League has taken a leading role in educating parents about this issue via our Put Our Children 1st: Common Core for Common Goals campaign, our survey suggests that efforts will be necessary moving forward as well to dispel the myths and deliberate distortions that have been touted by many of Common Core’s politically motivated opponents. Seventy-six percent of the parents surveyed understood that Common Core State Standards are a state-led effort that establishes a single set of educational standards, but 70 percent are under the misconception that the federal government was involved in their creation. This demonstrates the importance of continued work to ensure the dissemination of accurate information about the standards.
Nothing is more important in a child’s education than parental involvement. As I said in announcing the survey results earlier this week, “Our survey of African American parents on Common Core State Standards strongly indicates that when parents are fully informed — void of distortion, myth and political agendas — they tend to support Common Core and its potential to transform public education and help ensure that all of our children, regardless of their family income, ZIP code or ethnicity, are prepared for college or career.”
When parents are empowered and knowledgeable about the expectations and goals of Common Core, they are able to tune out the political rhetoric and tune in to the potential for their children.
Marc H. Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League.