This time next year, millions of schoolkids in the U.S. will sit down for their first Common Core test. In some places, the stakes will be high — for kids, their teachers and their communities. The goal of the Core benchmarks in reading and math is to better prepare students for college, career and the global economy. But the challenges are huge.
Right now, America's schools are in a sprint. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards. That means new learning benchmarks for the vast majority of the nation's young students — millions of kids from kindergarten through high school. And, for many of them, the Core Standards will feel tougher than what they're used to. Because they are tougher.
The federal law that governs special education lays out the goals pretty clearly: Students are entitled to an appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
But some parents of children with autism feel their local public schools aren't meeting their kids' needs. And with autism diagnoses rising, new schools are emerging specifically for autistic children.
Some parents see these specialized schools as a godsend. For others, they raise a new set of questions.
At our neighborhood playground in Brooklyn, you can hear kids shouting and playing in Russian, Spanish, Yiddish, Tagalog, French, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Polish. This kind of giddy cacophony has been par for the course in New York City for 150 years, but it's becoming more and more common across the country.
The numbers are grim. Black boys are more likely than white boys to live in poverty, and with a single parent. They're also more likely to be suspended from school and land in prison, and less likely to be able to read.