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Common Core a states-based initiative

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In response to the April 17 letter “Common Core bad for education, society,” I’d like to point out misinformation and clarify facts for readers unfamiliar with the Common Core. 

Ms. Ryan contends that the Common Core State Standards movement is one of a long list of national education programs, including “school to work” and No Child Left Behind. In fact, the CCSS is not a national program, but rather a states-based initiative initiated by governors and state education superintendents, not federal policymakers. Individual states adopted the standards, thus invoking the local control that Ms. Ryan advocates.

The CCSS are skills-based objectives that help teachers provide rigor and set clear goals for students at various developmental levels. An example standard from grades 9-10 reading directs that students “cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly, as well as inferences drawn from the text.” A fifth-grade mathematics standard specifies that students “solve real world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers.” These literacy and numeracy skills will prepare students for college and career success. The standards focus on critical thinking, supported writing, and application of knowledge, not programming that could lead to “takeover of our children and loss of parental rights,” as Ms. Ryan argues. The standards are not lists of facts to be memorized or information that will “dumb down” education “leading to control of the children,” as she claims.

Ms. Ryan’s assertion, unsupported by any evidence, that the CCSS will be used for “brainwashing, behavior modification with the objective of developing a passive, easily manipulated population,” is absurd. Rather, the CCSS are a useful guideline for teachers to help students become better thinkers, readers, communicators, and mathematicians.

Certainly some realistic criticisms of the CCSS exist, and some claim the CCSS are too limited. But one thing the Common Core State Standards are not: deliberate “frustrations of energetic, mentally active young people with high but defeated aspirations (that) lead to anger and even criminal behavior.” To suggest such undercuts the educators doing our best to teach children to think critically and independently.

Anna E. Baldwin, Ed.D.



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