This week is a watershed moment in the history of public schools in New York City and state. This morning, the state will release the results of the math and English exams administered to students this past spring. While end-of-year testing isn’t new, the knowledge that was tested last spring is. For the first time, students across the state were assessed based on the new, more rigorous Common Core standards.

For years, states around the country dummied-down standards to make it look as if students were more prepared for success after graduation than they actually were. This may have made some politicians look good, but it has been a terrible disservice to our kids.

Raising standards will mean we now have a more true measure of how well our students are learning. In the near term, it will also mean that previously inflated test scores will drop.

While some may confuse lower scores as a negative development, the fact that we’re finally being honest about academic achievement is a very positive sign.

For decades, states and local school districts have been responsible for their own education standards; the quality varied widely. A student deemed highly successful in one state could fail in another. The lack of uniform expectations didn’t do our students any favors. In fact, it doomed many to mediocrity.

Anyone who cares about giving all students a fair chance to succeed must be troubled by a terrible truth: The majority of America’s high school students aren’t graduating with the knowledge and skills they need to compete in the global economy… The scores will tell us what we already know, and what NAEP has told us for decades: Only about 30 percent of our students are ready for college and careers.

Kentucky has already taken new, Common Core-aligned state assessments and has seen its scores drop as much as 33 points, or 50 percent. New York leaders have said repeatedly that they expect similar results here.

This may be hard to stomach at first, but we must see it for what it is: a necessary hardship on the path to academic excellence. As a parent, I’d much rather find out that my child has fallen behind in third or fifth grade, when there’s still time to intervene, than when she gets to college and can’t do the work.

Former New York City Chancellor Joel Klein, in the New York Post, explaining why the implementation of Common Core reading and math standards is the important next step in providing our kids with comprehensive college-preparatory curricula that they deserve. We must be honest about how poorly American public education has served generations of children.

Common Core standards in math and English/language arts are widely adopted, high quality and transparent. They’re obviously not a silver bullet. But if implemented properly, they can help parents and teachers better educate the low-income children that are part of the tax credit scholarship program.

The reason? Academic stability and continuity are essential for these kids. When they apply for scholarships, they tend to be the lowest-performing students in the lowest-performing district schools. They face extraordinary personal and academic obstacles. Within the scholarship program, they tend to change private schools frequently.

And all too often, here’s what happens: They’re told by their current school that they’re excelling in Algebra, for instance, only to be told when they transfer to another school that they’re a year behind. We hear this complaint regularly from parents. We know this discontinuity is an issue for them.

My guess is, as more of them learn about these new multi-state standards, they will increasingly choose private schools that are using them. This consumer pressure, in turn, will spur more private schools to adopt the common standards, so they can successfully compete in Florida’s robust school choice market.

Private schools that adopt all or parts of these new standards will not sacrifice independence, flexibility or creativity, although assessments do guide curriculum and instruction. There are many ways to teach students how to, for instance, understand and solve polynomial expressions employing multiplication and division. Students who move from a New Age Montessori school to a fundamentalist Southern Baptist school will still be exposed to different curricula, teaching methods and school cultures, even if both schools are using the same content and performance standards in math and reading…

Twenty years ago almost every computer was using the Microsoft operating system, but that wasn’t caused by a government mandate. For practical reasons, most consumers decided using Microsoft software was in their best interest. Likewise, scholarship parents are embracing the common standards to address pragmatic concerns. The voluntary alignment of the SAT and ACT to the new standards will also spur tax credit scholarship parents to pick private schools that are using them.

The ACT and SAT are currently based on content and performance standards, but these standards are not transparent or easily accessible. The curriculum in all K-12 schools loosely correlates to current ACT and SAT standards, but this degree of alignment varies from school to school… That the ACT and SAT have both announced their intentions to base their content and performance standards on the new common standards is potentially a big plus for low-income students. It will make the ACT and SAT standards more transparent and help private school teachers better prepare scholarship students for them. This tighter alignment should also level the playing field a bit for students who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on ACT and SAT preparatory courses.

RedefinED‘s Doug Tuthill, countering the arguments of fellow school choice activists opposed to Common Core that implementation of the standards is counterproductive to expanding options. Dropout Nation will offer its thoughts on this view being spun by Common Core foes on this front later this week.

I will have to give it to Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz’s staff and the opponents of meaningful education reform. They got what they wanted a second time around. Not only did they defeat Republican Tony Bennett in last November’s election, but through a “release” of nearly year-old emails, they managed to get Bennett to step down from his job as Florida’s commissioner of schools. From a political perspective, I will give credit where credit is due. However, there is an old proverb that kind of goes something like this: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

With Bennett stepping down, Ritz and opponents of reform have lost their foil. In case you don’t know what that is, a “foil” is a character used in literature who contrasts with another character, usually the good guy, in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character. Bennett represented everything the establishment hated. He was pro-children, pro-results, anti-excuses. Was Bennett loud, boisterous and could be considered overbearing at times – damn skippy! And God love him for it. Indiana’s education system was treading water in a sea of mediocrity and now it is a model for the nation.

So what does it mean now that Bennett is gone? Well, I, for one, hope it means the current occupant of the superintendent’s office on second floor of the Statehouse might finally start answering a question or two. Here are some to get us started:

Are you still opposed to “high stakes testing” now that an independent audit by a firm you hired showed that the April glitch in ISTEP+ testing had a negligible impact on scores? You were opposed to IREAD-3. Did that have anything to do with your office not promptly putting out information regarding the improvement in test scores?

Why does your office continue to fail to comply with state law by providing lawmakers with the reports you are required to generate by state statute?

When you were on the board of the Indiana State Teachers Association, what role did you have, if any, in the administration of funds overseen by the Indiana State Teachers Association which is now in settlement talks with the Secretary of State’s office regarding the mismanagement of insurance trust funds?…

Glenwood School in Evansville is in year five of failure. At this point, none of the public hearings have been held. Will there be any in the near future?

You frequently criticized your predecessor for not having enough teachers on his senior staff. How many of your 12 top advisors have teaching credentials?

Did your office really get so far behind in approving federal grants for Indiana schools that a number of them were passed through with a rubber stamp?…

Oh well, Ritz and the anti-reform crowd won’t have Tony Bennett to kick around anymore and that is a decision they may come to regret.

Indianapolis radio personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, in Nuvo, pointing to the current Hoosier State superintendent’s failures so far in her first year of office.