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If it's hard, then we must do it....

My Reasons for Supporting Common Core Education

February is my favorite month. Historical figures whom I admire most, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, are celebrated in this month on President’s Day and for Black History Month. In addition, National Engineer’s Week is celebrated in February and so is my birthday! This year I celebrated my birthday at an event that embodies the patriotism, history and mission of all of the above, which also closely describe me, my inspirations and my aspirations-the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Award and Conference (BEYA).

As February comes to a close, I reflected on the acceptance speech of one military awardee, Major DeLante Moore, who borrowed from John F. Kennedy’s quote- “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”. Major Moore challenged the young conference attendees to “choose STEM, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard”.

I had begun this article before attending BEYA, but the meaning and magnitude of my chosen title converged with the awardee’s moment on the stage. The moment helped me crystallize my thoughts on why and how I became an engineer and the following controversial topic.

It strikes me as sad that several of our state governments have disavowed the Common Core curriculum. Why, in short because it’s hard. Where are the American grit, fortitude and pioneering spirit that built this great nation? George Washington, our first president, was an engineer, by the way!

I suppose there are several reasons for which Common Core Education can be argued against, but the one reason that is not due to the difficulty in its execution, is it’s applicability to all students. Common Core was developed and advocated by higher education professionals who wanted to supply the insatiable need for technical professionals to employers and towards that end, graduate more students because they were better prepared to survive college. The argument that the liberal arts are just as important and would be minimized if math and science education are maximized, assumes that non-STEM students and professionals do not utilize math and science in their daily lives. We all know, that’s not true. The Digital Age is upon us. The Era of Google and Apple is here. And if you can understand the pharmaceutical commercials on TV, you are an official geek!

It is the responsibility of society to fully develop its citizens; or is it? Fully, might be a questionable proposition; minimally is more accurate, but not as pleasing to the ear! The details of how, when and where this development takes place is in flux, along with the very definition of society. Private and public education, traditional higher education versus online learning, two parent and same-sex households, religion, federal versus state authority, integration and separation- issues that all play into these questions, themselves being argued and debated daily.

If our citizens are to participate and contribute to the innovation, productivity, creativity, and dominance of American performance, we must do the hard work of debating, solving problems, and challenging the next generation to explore and conquer new, unclaimed territories. Let’s continue to debate and grow our society and do the hard work that not only will enrich us, but also take us to the stars!

Prenthis AguilarComment