SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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March 11, 2014

With Common Core on the way, committeeman sounds an alarm

McGeney invites opponent of national standards to speak

(Continued)

According to the Common Core website, the standards will mean that students around the country are learning the same skills at approximately the same time, so some schools may need to make changes such as the grade level when a certain math skill, for example is taught, if children are going to do well on the tests.

Common Core has set standards only for English language arts and math, because the skills developed in those areas are used to learn in other areas, such as social studies and science, according to Common Core’s website. They’re also the subjects that are most commonly tested for accountability purposes.

Charner-Laird is neither an advocate nor opponent of the program. She’s taking a wait-and-see attitude, which she believes is a common one in the education establishment.

“People are withholding judgment for a while to see how things work out,” she said.

At the same time, she has no illusions regarding why a majority of states, including Massachusetts, have agreed to sign on. “The state has adopted it because it comes with a large amount of funding. People at the state level always have to be thinking of how to bring in a large amount of money.”

McGeney complains, however, about tying Common Core to “Race to the Top” grants. “This was so set up,” he says. Eventually, he worries, school budgets of cities and towns will drift beyond their control.

Explaining that he’s given the topic more research than anything in his 20-year career on the school board, McGeney told colleagues at the Feb. 25 meeting of his concerns about a nonprofit company, inBloom Inc., that hoped to support Common Core by gathering student data.

“They are storing an unprecedented amount of personal information,” he said. “Personal information about 11 million students.”

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