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ladywrists8 karma

TL;DR for the TL;DR: Don't blame Obama unless you are going to blame Bush just a little bit more. Also, please read what the Common Core actually says.

ladywrists8 karma

The answer is pretty complicated. It began with No Child Left Behind, which mandated annual testing in reading and math for all students in grades 3-8 and once in high school (students who have been in the country for less than one year are excluded from testing and students with severe disabilities have an alternative testing format). Districts that did well on these tests would receive monetary rewards for their perceived hard work. Districts that did poorly, or that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress towards having all of their students score proficient, would lose funding and be at risk for their school being shut down. NCLB left it up to the states to create the tests and the standards that accompanied them. The result was that students were subjected to a huge amount of testing, many states lowered their standards so that more students could pass, and many more states lowered their definition of "Proficient" to such a level that it was laughable.

In an attempt to remedy this, Obama has offered huge financial incentives (in the form of grant money called "Race to the Top") to adopt the Common Core Standards. You can read exactly what they say here. I highly encourage you to do so, since many people are confused about the difference between what they say and what's showing up in their kids' math homework. Basically, the CCSS set a nationwide standard of what all students should know and be able to do by the end of the school year. States were also offered incentives for joining certain testing consortiums that would give the same test (and thus, the same standard for what constitutes proficient) across several states.

In my opinion (and many people in the past have stopped listening to me at this point, so feel free to do the same) Bush did more to end critical thinking in schools than Obama has. Bush introduced the platform for the educational industrial complex that we have now, Obama has just continued it. I think that the CCSS (which, if you have read them by now, you may very well agree with me) have some really great standards that very much encourage critical thinking skills. How we implement them will determine whether or not those skills are actually cultivated (and based off of how things are going, I'm guessing critical thinking will continue to be an afterthought).

TL;DR: Bush created No Child Left Behind, which is what started annual testing. After this fixed exactly zero things (and created many new problems), Obama introduced the Common Core Standards, via a grant called Race to the Top, which is what all those pictures of first graders' math homework are all about (in some form). Both of those things could have been helpful in raising the level of critical thinking skills required to succeed in school, but NCLB has completely failed in that mission, and Race to the Top (and thus, Common Core) could very well do the same.