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Common Core Standards Lower the Bar; Legislature Should Reject Them

By Eunie Smith
President of Eagle Forum of Alabama

Unfortunately, Business Council of Alabama CEO William Canary’s opinion piece saying that the common core standards will be helpful to Alabama students cannot be substantiated.  In Alabama, the Math standards have only been used for one full year, and the English standards are still in their first year of implementation.  To the contrary, consider the following statement from Brookings Institution: “The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students’ achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools.”

Why? Common Core standards are not research based. The only professional mathematician on the Common Core validation committee, Dr. James Milgram, says they lower the bar, fail to prepare high school students for STEM, and will put students two years behind other countries.  The only English professor on the committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, explains that common core is unlikely to prepare students for college and will stunt students’ critical thinking skills by replacing much classic literature with informational reading such as EPA regulations, etc. This is a surrender to the idea that most students should be trained for static jobs in the global economy as cc declares, not nurtured as creative human beings with hearts and minds and souls.

Significantly, a 2013 analysis by Stanford and the Economic Policy Institute shows U. S. schools are NOT being outpaced by international competition.

One-size-fits-all national standards with their inevitable political indoctrination can be expected to squelch ingenuity and further undermine American exceptionalism and private enterprise.

Regarding “problem solving”, some math standards in early grades especially are themselves the problem.  Over 500 early childhood education professionals objected to the K-3 standards before they were launched, saying they are developmentally inappropriate.  Now, parents of young children across the nation see their children frustrated by nonsensical instructions and hours of drawing circles and boxes and lines and dots that they must then count.  As one 3rd grader demonstrates online, stacking is much faster and actually gets the right answer.  She had to learn stacking at home.

At a Notre Dame conference, child psychologist Dr. Megan Koshnick described the harmful stress these early standards are causing. Diane Ravitch wrote in detail of test related stress, and at a forum in Dothan last month Mental Health Therapist Joan Landes reiterated these dangers.

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Common core text exemplars now found in at least one widely used Alabama edition cc textbook as recommended reading are too offensive to discuss here.  One wonders how they could pass the scrutiny of Alabama anti-obscenity laws.

Eagle Forum volunteers work to equip Alabama students for academic achievement to enable them to pursue the American dream – to be whatever they want to be in life.  We were the catalyst for the nationally acclaimed Alabama Reading Initiative.  We strive for strong, proven, age-appropriate standards that reflect Alabama values.

According to Superintendent Bice’s report on 2013 Advanced Placement test results, the standards used the past five years have been some of the best in the nation and ranked Alabama number two in percent increases for minorities.  The BCA praises these accomplishments and the pre-2010 standards in its own publication.  In a letter to Alabama legislators, Fordham Foundation VP Michael Petrilli wrote: “Alabama had strong, relatively up-to-date standards that have produced steadily improving results.  So it is not crazy to consider going back to the standards you had in 2010 and before.”

We urge the Alabama legislature to use their authority under the Alabama Constitution to repeal “Alabama College and Career Ready Standards” (aka common core) and replace them with proven Alabama standards upon which we can continue to improve.

Eunie Smith volunteers as President of Eagle Forum of Alabama.

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