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Editorial: Myths guiding opposition on Common Core

Common Core, the education reform plan created by the Council of Chief State School Officers and backed by the National Governors Association, once had the support of 45 states and the District of Columbia. The support was bipartisan.

Nearly a score of Republican governors backed the plan as a replacement for No Child Left Behind. But in recent years it has become almost an article of faith for Republican political candidates to oppose Common Core.

Most of that opposition is based on mistaken beliefs about what Common Core is and what the reform plan hopes to accomplish. To compete in a global economy, the nation needs to ask students in every state to reach as high as they can and create standards that encourage them to do so.

Opponents tend to labor under the misguided belief that states and local school districts know best when it comes to setting standards for their children. That veneration of local control led to wildly disparate standards under No Child Left Behind.

Some states, like Massachusetts, set tough goals. Others would graduate a doorstop.

New Hampshire standards are not as rigorous as those of Massachusetts, but they’re considerably tougher than average.

To evade accountability under then-President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, educators in some states cheated. Others, since states were allowed to set their own standards, dumbed them down to make it easy for students and schools to meet proficiency goals.

The Republican candidates vying to replace Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan – Walter Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway – both oppose having a national standard to measure, not just rote learning but each student’s ability to think critically.

When told, in a meeting with the Monitor’s editorial board, that in states with low standards a high school student who only reads at an elementary school level would nonetheless graduate, Hemingway said, “Who cares?” But everyone should care when a state or a school district shortchanges students by failing to ask enough of them.

A student who doesn’t master basic skills like reading, writing and math faces a grim economic future.

He or she will be more likely to require help from taxpayers and less likely to help America compete globally.

National standards would recognize that Americans are mobile, and the younger they are the more likely they are to hold different jobs for different employers during their working life.

A student who isn’t taught that most important of skills, learning how to learn, will be left behind.

Even in New Hampshire, more than half of the high school graduates entering community college need remedial help to do the work. Common Core is an attempt to change that. It is, and should be, a work in progress.

A lot of ridiculous things are being said about Common Core, chief among them that it’s a federal takeover of education. It isn’t. The standards were created by the states.

Participation is voluntary, though the potential to receive federal funds is an incentive to adopt them. Common Core is not a curriculum; curricula are designed by school districts. Teachers are free to take any approach they believe will help students meet the standards.

How to measure success under Common Core’s standards, and how to use the results of standardized tests and other assessment components to evaluate teachers, is a separate problem and one not easily solved.

The right course, for New Hampshire and other states, is to adopt the standards and improve on them while being cautious when using them to measure student and teacher success.

Legacy Comments7

Common Core was created by high minded educators and Bill Gates (never graduated from college), it teaches multi-culturalism which defeats our melting pot national identity and it teaches political correctness. It also teaches history blaming our country and skewing historical facts. The last thing we need is more federal and political control of our live and schools.

You are not hearing any chatter about the standards of CC. Nobody talks about that. How many folks know that Algebra will be delayed a year and what that might mean in regards to the math requirement for college? How many folks are aware of what the approved books are for literature, or what is in the workbooks that will be used? You cannot teach critical thinking if you do not have a solid knowledge of the basics. And the basics seems to be the issue in regards to our students struggling. Add to the fact, that many kids are not taught a love for reading at a young age at home, and you have a problem. The problem with CC is the implementation and how teachers will be evaluated on that implementation. Nobody knows how to judge critical thinking. And we are already hearing about how the test results will go down as it will take years to get CC workable. Also ask about the cost. No chatter about that. We also know that states were not exactly given a choice. Basically they were told go along with CC or forget about federal funding coming to your state. The left want to make this political. When in fact it is about teaching methods and if in fact they will work.

With just two words, "Who cares?", Andrew Hemingway showed he's not fit to be governor of the people and state of NH.

His elitist libertarian philosophy shows through.

Every student in the nation should be expected to "know" certain items by the end of each grade level. Let the teacher choose the method to teach those items but the results must be there. It is crazy to think that a student should not be able to move from one school to another because classes have been dumbed down just to say a student passed. Why would any parent in the country want that?

Common Core is a perfect representation of the Democrat party. They want to bring everyone down to the common level of a LIDV. 1) Common Core proponents try to get Americans angry about the current state of public education. 2) it is the same people that are running the current state of public education. 3) That my friends is called the Fox guarding the hen house. States are dropping this mistake in droves - even some teachers unions are against it . Common Core is an inferior product forced on unsuspecting communities by a cabal of big government democrat elites. The proven way to fix public schools is allowing parents the freedom of choice. Democrats needless to say are against CHOICE

Excellent editorial and perfect timing with school starting back up! Thanks for getting out in front of the yearly anti-education rants which seem to pop up this time every year. While I don't believe Common Core to be a magic bullet that will solve all this country's educational problems, it is certainly not a "liberal progressive indoctrination program concocted by George Soros" - which is how I've heard it described by some.

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