My Turn: Common Core doesn’t elevate public education
In 2010, four appointed members of the New Hampshire State Board of Education voted to adopt national standards in math and English.
Since then, resistance has been growing across the country as parents and teachers begin to see the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in their public schools. Just last week the Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution opposing Common Core.
Common Core standards, which replaced the academic standards states had developed under No Child Left Behind, were supposed to prepare students for college or the workforce and help students who moved from state to state.
Some of the initial problems critics saw were the enormous cost to school districts, the poor quality of the standards and the data mining of private information on students.
As schools began aligning curriculum and testing students, the controversy grew more intense. At one point, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, referred to some of the biggest critics as “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”
New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry referred to critics, who are mainly parents, as “misinformed.”
Duncan and Barry seem to be underestimating the anger in parents and teachers who see the confusing math questions and the reduction in classical literature in favor of informational texts. There is nothing good about confusing children in mathematics, because it can lead students to private tutors and can kill the love of learning.
Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, the only content experts on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on Common Core citing numerous flaws.
For instance, Common Core math standards do not prepare students for college programs in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Why would we settle for inferior standards instead of using what we knew were the best in the nation?
The federal government bribed and coerced states to adopt Common Core standards, first through the Race to the Top grant program. Even though New Hampshire applied for the grant and agreed to adopt the standards, New Hampshire received no federal funding.
The federal government also offered states a “waiver” from No Child Left Behind. States were coerced into adopting standards, tying a teacher’s evaluation to the standardized tests and data mining private information on students.
The state of Washington recently had its “waiver” revoked because it didn’t tie teacher evaluations to student performance metrics in a timely fashion. This is why many teachers refer to this latest reform effort as an “attack on teachers.”
With all of the criticism aimed at No Child Left Behind, it seems like the best solution would have been to end that federal program. Instead, the U.S. Department Of Education ignored the law and began offering federal dollars and waivers in order to implement another education reform.
There are big names like former Florida governor Jeb Bush supporting Common Core, too. If you look at the profits he will make from Common Core, you begin to see some of the reasons he is out there pushing it.
School districts can reject Common Core, however it becomes difficult knowing the state standardized tests will be based on the standards. The New Hampshire Department of Education signed away state control of testing, too.
Teachers, child psychologists, and the top content and standards experts have called the standards and tests developmentally inappropriate for children. One teacher in New York went so far as to call Common Core child abuse. If this is true, the last thing New Hampshire should be doing is pushing this reform effort forward.
Since Gov. Maggie Hassan has not led New Hampshire to better academic standards, parents need to become more involved. If education is truly the priority everyone says it is, there is no reason we should be settling for another reform effort that puts our children and teachers in a potentially harmful situation and at the same time fails to elevate public education in New Hampshire.
(Ann Marie Banfield is the education liaison for Cornerstone Action.)