The New Hampshire House spared the Common Core state education standards last week, but not before hearing from some lawmakers eager to amend or abolish them. Rep. Laura Jones, R-Rochester, said the standards promote mediocrity in the classroom. Rep. Ralph Boehm, R-Litchfield, objected to the mandate imposing them. And Rep. Patrick Bick, R-Salem, was pretty sure they represent a federal takeover of local education.
These legislators are long on fears but short on facts….
Like many reform initiatives, though, the Common Core has led to confusion and controversy. That’s odd, in a way, because its origins go back at least 30 years, to 1983 and the seminal report A Nation at Risk, which warned of a “rising tide of mediocrity” in public schools. In response to that report, governors and state school commissioners began pushing for higher standards, calling on curriculum groups to write them. State efforts were fitful and largely unsuccessful, however, until after the passage in 2001 of No Child Left Behind, the federal school accountability law that mandated tests in English and math. Because the law imposed sanctions on school districts that failed to meet state-defined proficiency targets, some states weakened their standards, thus ensuring that most students would succeed in making “adequate yearly progress.” As unintended consequences go, this was a doozy, because No Child Left Behind was supposed to raise standards, not lower them.
Indeed, the changes over the next year are likely to be disruptive for students, teachers and parents, who are threatening in some communities to have their children opt out of the tests. Education historian Diane Ravitch argues there’s distrust and suspicion surrounding the Common Core because the standards were written too hastily and without sufficient consultation. That may be true. But anyone who takes the time to read them will quickly realize that they are straightforward and have the potential to improve both instruction and achievement in a country that doesn’t have particularly high expectations for either.
read the whole piece at Getting to the Core | Valley News.