SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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February 20, 2014

When it ain't broke

PEABODY — This state is committing to fixing education whether it needs it or not. At least that’s the complaint of school board member Dave McGeney, who is shouting out a warning about Common Core, a national program to standardize education in each state, including curriculum and testing. It’s on its way to Massachusetts, and McGeney is wondering why.

MCAS “catapulted Massachusetts to No. 1 in the country six years in a row. That’s Ed Reform,” he said. Massachusetts student performance is now on a level with some of the top-rated educational systems in the world, he said. Helping to formulate Ed Reform was a woman named Sandra Stotsky, now a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas. She was later tapped to work on the Common Core program.

But Stotsky turned against the idea and now lectures on what she sees as the dangers it represents. At McGeney’s invitation, she is set to speak on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Higgins Middle School, outlining her misgivings.

McGeney worries that the Common Core system is untested, and he sees its spread from state to state as a power grab by the federal government.

“If you like your school system, you can keep your school system,” he says, mockingly. “It’s the abdication of our responsibility for public schools to the untested program of the federal government. ... This monumental change is happening, and no one really gets the magnitude of this road we’re going down.”

Let the federal government test Common Core in the District of Columbia, McGeney urged, and only then, if successful, advocate it for others.

It’s the biggest issue he’s faced in 20 years on the school board, McGeney said with considerable passion. He hinted that the educational establishment is pressuring its adoption. “Educational leaders are not going to say anything against it, because that would be the end of their careers.”

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