Education and Cultural Reform

Joe Cunningham, III

Joe Cunningham, III

Education reform in the state currently underway again as the powers in Baton Rouge work on a new, Not Common Core set of standards for the state. The tremendous amount of political pressure to get rid of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is due in large part to frustrated parents who have no idea how to help their children and teachers who were inadequately prepared for the CCSS and are largely resistant to changes in how they teach.

That’s not to say that CCSS doesn’t have its weaknesses. Essentially, there is a lot lost in translation from standards to curriculum, and it is increasing frustrations across the state and the U.S., particularly in math. The CCSS for English and Language Arts don’t usually result in the same issues that you see in the math standards-based books, but there are some things that crop up (readings and questions with particular a political bent, mostly).

Because of this and a frankly botched implementation of the standards in the state, there is a sense of chaos in education here in Louisiana.

The CCSS were an attempt to reform education and increase the educational output of American schools. While I don’t necessarily dislike the standards, and certainly agree that we need them, there is more to education than just the standards of teaching. Education reform in the United States has to be just as much about culture as it is about anything else.

This is why education reform policies that don’t include reforms of the systems as a whole are never truly successful. The major issues of the day – violent acts, abuse of power, erosion of traditional morals – can very well trace their roots to cultural change and a failure of education. If we have a system in place that promotes education through competition, offers parents choice, and focuses on identifying and combatting negative perceptions of education in poorer cultural groups (this is seen especially in inner city black communities and rural white communities).

When we can address the issues and bring about real reform in schools, not just reforms in what we teach, then we can get somewhere as a nation. Until that time, we’re just going through the motions.

Joe Cunningham is a conservative commentator, Front Page Editor at, contributor to The Hayride, and a teacher in south Louisiana. You can find him on Twitter at @JoePCunningham and on Facebook at