, Salem, MA


June 17, 2014

Letter: Common Core is not common sense

To the editor:

Tomorrow night at 7:30, the Beverly School Committee will vote on whether to use MCAS (representing current state standards and curriculum) or PARCC (representing Common Core national standards and curriculum) assessment tests next school year. Common Core has already begun slowly, stealthily infiltrating our state standards since 2010. I find it, therefore, imperative for Beverly citizens concerned about the quality of our children’s education to contact their School Committee representative and attend this meeting. Let your voice be heard.

The Peabody School Committee, along with 15 other cities and towns (including Cambridge), has already voted to stay with the MCAS exam in 2015. It is particularly important for Beverly citizens to get involved since our superintendent of schools happens to be a PARCC Fellow and concurrently is advising the School Committee on whether to switch to PARCC. This has all the trappings of a conflict of interest, one that needs investigating.

Believe it or not, Massachusetts by all metrics has the best schools in the nation. If treated as a separate country, our students are competitive in math and science with nations like Japan, Korea and Singapore. In the early 1990s, Massachusetts was an above-average but ordinary performer in education relative to other states, based on various measures like the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and TIMSS test. However, since the enactment of the 1993 educational reform law (the current educational standards concluding with MCAS for testing) Massachusetts has catapulted to the top. By no means are our standards perfect, and many parents have issues with MCAS and standardized testing, but it is difficult to argue with the data and the remarkable improvement in Massachusetts education relative to other states since 1993.

Why in the world would we want to adopt untested national standards and sacrifice all that has been gained since 1993 — and pay for it? Common Core standards may be advantageous for states with more problematic scholastic levels, like Mississippi, but not for Massachusetts. Logic would require that the Common Core could possibly be tried in Mississippi first as a test before being imposed here. Common Core standards are not internationally benchmarked, are not research-based and are not rigorous, like the Massachusetts educational establishment would have you believe.

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