Former teacher Rep. Cindy Chase (D-Keene) has given education issues and the Common Core a lot of thought and had a great piece in yesterday’s Keene Sentinel. Here’s a sample:
The Common Core, officially known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS), is coming to New Hampshire. In fact, it is already here and is causing something of an uproar in various educational circles. Whether that uproar is a good thing or a bad thing depends upon where on the sidelines you sit.
A bit of history: In 1965 Congress established the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Its purpose was to assist school districts impacted by a significant population of students living at or near the poverty level. Determination of poverty impact was made by the number of free or reduced-price lunches served in each school.
ESEA was routinely renewed by Congress every eight years, until 2000, when Sen. Edward Kennedy and President George Bush decided it needed to be fixed. Enter No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the name given to this renewal of ESEA.
It was an unmitigated disaster for students, schools and teachers. Among other things, it stated that “every child will be ‘on grade level’ by 2014,” something that is statistically impossible. It directed schools away from the idea of educating the whole child and focused instead on test preparation skills. It has raised test scores, but it has also labeled many good schools as “failing,” because if even one subgroup, such as those with developmental disabilities, was not on target to be on grade level by 2014, the school was considered as failing.
NCLB was set to be renewed in 2008, but had become too controversial. The number of schools labeled “failing” was rising … fast. Something had to be done. That something was the Common Core State Standards. It is worth pointing out that the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that any authority not specifically given to the federal government is reserved to the states. Because the Constitution does not mention education, some of the federal mandates of NCLB could be construed as unconstitutional. With this in mind, the National Governors Association, with the financial support of the Gates Foundation, set out to write Common Core Standards. Specifically inserted in the name was the word “state” to make perfectly clear that these standards were written by states, not by the federal government.
The need for some sort of federal benchmarking of expectations has been obvious for some time. A student who completes 3rd grade in Keene and moves to Olatha, Kan., for 4th grade should have the basic skills s/he needs to succeed there. Reality is that there has been no nationally agreed upon guidelines of what should be taught at each grade level.
read the rest here: Introducing the Common Core – SentinelSource.com.