My Turn: Common Core math standards are too low
Re “UNH, partners are building a STEM talent pipeline” (Monitor Forum, Nov. 26):
University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston talks about the partnership between the Business Industry Association and UNH to help develop students for programs and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This sounds wonderful, but it contradicts the BIA endorsement of the Common Core initiative that is now being rolled out in public schools across New Hampshire.
For instance, the Common Core math standards do not prepare students for college programs in the STEM field. One has to wonder why the BIA would support STEM education and then endorse academic standards that do not prepare students for STEM programs. It simply does not make sense.
In a recent white paper, “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare Students for STEM,” professors James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky explain how the Common Core math standards do not include academic standards that will prepare high school students for STEM programs. For instance, the standards put students on a path to complete Algebra I by the end of ninth grade. This is one year behind the old and superior California math standards that not only had students completing Algebra I by the end of eighth grade but also included precalculus and calculus standards. These are high school math courses that a student needs in order to qualify for the much desired STEM programs at our top colleges and universities. By completing Algebra I in eighth grade, students haves the ability to complete the needed high school level math classes that prepare them for STEM programs. Common Core’s path would deny students that opportunity.
Lead author of the Common Core math standards, Jason Zimba, has publicly stated that the standards provide students with enough mathematics to make them ready for a nonselective college, not for STEM.
We know the Common Core math standards aim low in mathematics, and we know the BIA endorsed the Common Core math standards. This leaves me to wonder what BIA officials mean when they say they support STEM education but then publicly support federal reform efforts that fail to prepare New Hampshire public school students for STEM programs.
Parents across the state are beginning to look at the Common Core math standards and are seeing serious flaws, reminding them of the failed reform math programs that helped create a generation of adults who were illiterate in mathematics.
If the BIA or UNH truly wants to help K-12 students for a path to STEM programs, they would be wise to endorse academic standards that actually put students on a path to STEM programs. Under Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Common Core math standards chosen for New Hampshire students fail to offer this path. It’s time to be honest about that problem and start leading the way to better standards for our children.
(Ann Marie Banfield of Bedford is education liaison for Cornerstone Action.)