, Salem, MA


March 13, 2014

Column: The mystery behind Common Core


The meeting Tuesday was called by concerned Peabody school board member Dave McGeney, and attended by the rest of the school board, the mayor, the three Peabody state legislators and at least 100 concerned citizens. They were given a fact sheet from Stotsky noting the lack of transparency of the entire Common Core process, as well as the chief deficiencies of the standards, notably stressing writing over reading (i.e., expressing opinions for which adequate information has not been acquired), and not encouraging the higher math courses that lead to the science and technology expertise our nation needs.

A young teacher at the meeting validated the argument that some of the standards are “developmentally inappropriate in the primary grades.” Stotsky predicted that programs for gifted students will disappear in favor of leveling the education playing field. Most ominously to me: her argument that “Common Core reduces opportunities for students to develop critical thinking.”

Very few adults I know have developed much in the way of critical thinking, so the nation’s education system hasn’t done its job for at least a few generations. Along with our math and science deficiency relative to other countries, it’s understandable that efforts are constantly being made to improve education standards.

Massachusetts has seen success with English and math testing since 1993’s education reform, and Pioneer argues that lifting the cap on charter schools will do far more good than letting the federal government take over. With the growing concern among parents, teachers and local education systems, the state department of education should put its acceptance of Common Core on hold, as New York has. If the state department doesn’t re-evaluate, local school boards should be allowed to opt out as more scrutiny uncovers problems.

The federal government taking over K-12 education: What could possibly go wrong?

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

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