RealClearEd Today 06/10/2014: Gates Foundation: Delay Common Core Consequences

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Good morning, it’s Tuesday June 10. This morning at RealClearEducation we have news, commentary, analysis, and reports from the education world. This morning Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready at the Gates Foundation, will call for delaying the attachment of any consequences to the new Common Core State Standards, bolstering the position of those calling for an accountability moratorium. Depending on your perspective that will help or hinder implementation of the new standards more than 40 states are adopting. In California the decision in the closely watched Vergara v. California case is expected later today. First Lady Michelle Obama is also out with an op-ed in Education Week that calls for more support for education among the nation's young. Below are a few highlights of what’s on the main part of our site this morning. As always there is additional content organized by key issue areas on our sidebars. And we update all through the day.

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On this date in 1935 Dr. Robert Smith, a surgeon from Vermont who was unable to operate without a drink to steady his hand, had his last alcoholic drink. That decision followed almost four decades of hard drinking. Like many in recovery, Smith could count the years, weeks, and days of recovery but his sobriety is especially noteworthy. He became sober with the help of Bill Wilson and the mutual support they found together when they launched Alcoholics Anonymous. 

While not without its critics and controversy, AA has helped millions stay sober with all the challenges that alcoholism entails for many. The initial idea behind AA is that individuals are stronger collectively and can support each other better together than anyone can on their own. Out of that idea grew the iconic 12-step process and the loose infrastructure of AA. Rather than formally lead the organization, Bill Wilson -- or Bill W. as he was known in the spirit of anonymity -- took steps two decades after its founding to establish AA as an independent and self-perpetuating entity. He has described it as a "benign anarchy."

It doesn’t take decades to develop a substance abuse problem and many young people also struggle with addiction – often in plain sight of adults. Over the years, schools have tried a variety of strategies to dissuade students from drinking or using drugs. Programs like DARE try to persuade them, and rules about substance abuse and sports penalize them. The results are decidedly mixed. Drinking among high school students is declining but more than one in four seniors report being drunk in the previous month, according to federal data. Thirty-six percent of 12th-graders report using marijuana during the past year, more than one in five during the past month. For 10th-graders, 18 percent report using pot in the past month.

When you talk with young people in recovery they often say that little in the way of prevention or dissuasion would have worked for them. Sometimes speaking in the language of Bill Wilson they say that what they needed most was a place to go when they decided to stop using. Instead, they find a patchwork system with insufficient beds, waiting lists, and delays that are at odds with the immediacy of an often-fleeting decision to try to get clean.

There is increasing talk in policy circles about “disconnected youth.” But we don’t see a lot of politicians running for office talking about helping kids in recovery. That’s a signal worth heeding. It may well be that like “accountability” and “teacher quality” this is another place where tough choices elude us. Policymakers might remember what Bill Wilson wrote describing why AA worked, “half measures availed us nothing.”

RealClearEducation June 10, 2014 Headlines: 
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