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.
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 white, split-rail fences of horse farms line the two-lane road that takes you southwest from Lexington. It's a beautiful half-hour drive to Danville, Ky.
Settled in 1783, the town is proud of its history. In Constitution Square, across Main Street from Burke's Bakery, sits a tiny log cabin that was once the first post office west of the Allegheny Mountains.
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.