Former teacher alarmed about Common Core

As a former teacher in the Marietta Public School system for 30 years, I have taken an interest in the controversy over the new Common Core Standards being implemented across the state. As my former students may tell you, I am not opposed to standards. In fact, I believe students must be given goals to pursue as they seek to master the content in each subject area they study.

What has given me pause regarding this particular set of standards is the criticism they have received from several people involved in their development. University of Arkansas professor, and former member of the Common Core Standards Validation Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky gained national recognition when she refused to sign off on the proposed standards. In December of 2012, she penned an article critical of the standards titled, “Common Core Standards’ Devastating Impact on Literary Study and Analytical Thinking.”

In the article, Stotsky writes, “The fatal flaws in the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) standards went unnoticed because over 45 state boards of education and/or their governors hastily adopted the standards in 2010, in some cases long before they were written or finalized.” What business did the states have adopting standards they had never seen? In the same article, she is also critical of the Common Core requirement to limit the amount of classical literature read by students in favor of non-fiction “informational texts.” Of this development Stotsky writes, “This misplaced stress on informational texts reflects the limited expertise of Common Core’s architects and sponsoring organizations in curriculum and in teachers’ training.”

Similarly, Dr. James Milgram, Stanford University professor and the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, concluded the program’s math standards would place American students two years behind their peers in other high-achieving countries. In protest Milgram refused to sign off on the standards. Dr. William McCallum, University of Arizona professor and one of only three authors of Common Core’s math standards, has said “overall standards wouldn’t be very high” and are “not up to the standards of other nations.”

The standards have been lampooned by experts outside the Common Core creation process as well. Dr. Jonathan Goodman, a professor at New York University questioned Common Core’s claim to be competitive with international standards by saying, “The Common Core standard?has significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries.” And Dr. Ze’ev Wurman, mathematician and former official in the US Department of Education, was critical of Common Core standards that call for moving Algebra I from the eighth to ninth grade, saying [this] “reverses the most significant change in mathematics education in America in the last decade” and is “contrary to the practice of the highest-achieving nations.”

Again, as someone who has spent the better part of her life in the classroom, I am alarmed with what I have read about Common Core. I hope this is not another fad being pushed upon teachers and students by so-called education experts. If it is, it is sure to do a disservice to those young people it purports to serve.

Glenna Clutter