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Common Core backlash

Posted: December 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 6, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Just when I thought maybe it was time to settle down over Common Core, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan renewed the fire of discontent on both ends of the political spectrum with the following: “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback (against Common Core) is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.”

No, this isn’t a joke. Those are his words. I couldn’t make up something this outrageous if I tried.

I don’t know if Mr. Duncan is simply ignorant or willfully ignoring the truth, but what has most parents and educators angry about Common Core “State” Standards is that the federal government bribed states to accept standards that weren’t yet written — and the whole thing was done so quietly that most parents and educators didn’t even know what was happening until states had already signed on to reap the financial benefits.

They also understood that Common Core was a deliberate end run around federal laws that expressly prohibit a national curriculum.

Then the standards themselves began rolling out, and those who were only just learning about Common Core were horrified that untested standards, written with little to no input from parents, teachers, or child development experts, were going to be implemented without their consent.

Now that the standards have been put into place, we’re seeing some of the real-world results.

In areas where Common Core standards have been in effect for anywhere from months to a few years, several teachers, therapists, and child development specialists have now come forward to voice their opposition, citing significant negative emotional and psychological impact upon children as their reason for speaking out.

One of the most heartbreaking testimonies was that of Mary Calamia, a licensed clinical social worker, who has observed an explosion of new referrals from many different districts due to previously bright, high-performing students suddenly self-harming due to the increasing stress over the amount of work and high stakes testing involved in Common Core.

Students have also begun voicing their distress over the changes, complaining that learning isn’t fun anymore and that they hate going to school.

These aren’t delinquents, either. They are formerly good students, hardworking kids whose spirits are being broken to the point that they want to quit school. Their love of learning has been snuffed out in favor of these standards, and once you take away their passion, trust me, you can forget teaching kids anything.

At a recent Common Core forum, one veteran teacher, Beth Dimino, characterized CCSS and its associated testing as child abuse due to the psychological toll that it’s taking on students. She encouraged parents to opt their children out of the tests in protest.

Of course, at least one New York State PTA Education Coordinator and Common Core advocate has stated that any parent who does so should be turned in to Child Protective Services for “educational neglect.”
Just reading his statement sent a chill down my spine. Since when does rejecting high stress, high stakes tests mean that children are being denied an education?

I would argue that, if anything, the time and resources that end up being devoted to testing and meeting national standards at the expense of meaningful class time and creativity are tantamount to educational neglect.

Oh, and according to recently released world education rankings, U.S. test scores have actually declined since CCSS implementation. Finland, which has no standardized testing, ranked first.

Contrary to popular belief, not every type of intelligence or knowledge can be quantified by a standardized test.

Every young person has something inside that makes that child uniquely brilliant.
Some struggle in math but have fabulous communication skills, while others are naturally excellent at computing complex mathematical formulas in their head in mere seconds, but lack the ability to communicate in writing exactly how they reached their solution.

Still other kids excel in the areas of science, history, art, music, dance, theater, or sports, but with the heaviest focus of schools and teachers now being test results, those kids may give up in school before they ever discover them, believing that they are just not good at anything.

Einstein said it best: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Christine Korenthal is a resident of Canyon Country.



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