Resistance to Common Core
For a very long time I have been dismayed by the fact that there are so many very capable students, motivated students who want to have good grades and take the classes that they need to in order to succeed in college and have a meaningful career. Unfortunately, as we all know America’s public education system could use improvement. Common Core has been met with great controversy, some success, and much work yet to be done.
Conceptual Physics as a Graduation Requirement
For many years now I have tutored students in the subjects of physics, math, chemistry, astronomy, and computer science, and most of those students have come from private high schools here in the San Diego area. And, as you can expect, private high schools are not the least expensive means of providing an education for someone. A couple of things have really bothered me. One is that this private high school, like a couple of others that I know of, requires all students to take and pass the conceptual physics class in order to graduate. Now, I think this is a tremendous idea. In fact, I have said many times that I think students, and society, would be better served by ALL students having to take and pass conceptual physics, along with some other subjects, in order to graduate from high school. But this is something that a lot of parents might say my child can’t do. I have tutored many students from these conceptual physics , and it is fair to say that many of the students would be unable to pass this class if it weren’t for me tutoring them.
California Algebra Graduation Requirement
This, of course, comes against the backdrop of an educational system, at least in California, which is still struggling to ensure that ALL students take and pass algebra in order to graduate from high school. And I have read reports that some students are having to take algebra THREE times in order to pass just to graduate from high school. This bothers me a lot because, clearly, we live in a society in which basic math skills are an absolute necessity.
Physics, Calculus Required for Highest Paying Jobs
and I have seen a great many reports showing that the highest demand, highest paying jobs for college graduates this year and in at least the past 40 years have all required physics and calculus. That is, at least two semesters of calculus and two semesters of physics. So if we are in a society where we are having problems with getting kids to just pass algebra in order to graduate from high school, clearly, we have a great disconnect between what the best jobs are demanding and what our schools are providing and our students are able to accomplish.
Where does the disconnect lie?
Now, I have not a doubt in my mind that there are great many educators who have written a great number of papers on what the problem is: Is it that we don’t have good teachers? Is it that students don’t work as hard as they used to? Is it that they play too many video games? Who knows. There is considerable debate on this topic, but the end result of it is we are still struggling to get all students to pass algebra, preferably on the first try, in order to graduate from high school, and then we have these various private high schools here in San Diego that are requiring all students to pass conceptual physics in order to graduate, in addition to algebra, and several other math and science classes.
How do we solve the problem?
We live in an increasingly technological society and a knowledge of basic physics is something critical to deductive reasoning skills and to the world in which we live. Sadly, though, because so many students are struggling just to pass algebra, the prospects for implementation of the conceptual physics curriculum in every public high school, for every high school, for that matter, throughout the country seem very low. I would definitely like to see a time where students are given the opportunity to take this class, so that they could go on to college and take the physics and math needed for the best paying, highest demand jobs and go on to have great career success, achieve promotions and have lower student loan debt.