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Common Core as a campaign issue

on July 23 | in In Focus | by | with Comments Off

Whether it’s resolutions at the State Convention, or forums all over the state or the Governor’s office, Common Core has been the most important and possibly, misunderstood issue that will impact the 2014 elections.

From the Georgia Examiner:

A major campaign issue for the 2013 midterm elections appears to be brewing, and it’s neither racial nor it is tied to Obamacare. Instead, it is an issue based entirely on a classic battle –education.

On Wednesday, Jul 22, Georgia state officials announced that the state would not offer standardized tests tied to the new and highly controversial Common Core curriculum. Governor Nathan Deal, in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said that while Common Core has its merit, he prefers that decisions and materials for assessing student and teacher performance remain within control of the state and local authorities.

“Georgia can create an equally rigorous measurement without the high costs associated with this particular test. Just as we do in all other branches of state government, we can create better value for taxpayers while maintaining the same level of quality.” – Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The educational program is touted by its creators as being a fairer, more reliable method of assessment than other testing materials.

“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.“ - from Common Core website.

According to Common Core’s website, 45 states have adopted some form of the curriculum. Florida’s Board of Education adopted the program in 2010 in the hopes of boosting the state’s sagging test scores. The St. John’s County School District, just outside Jacksonville, first pointed to the possibility of revisions to the state’s controversial Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), when eventually happened in 2011.

“The state is finalizing plans for how the Common Core standards will be assessed. FCAT may be revised, used in combination with or even replaced by a set of nationally developed exams. The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exams are indevelopment, and we should know more about them within a few months. What is known is that the standards will be assessed during the 2014-2015 school year.” -release from the St. John’s County (FL) School District, 2010.

Common Core is controversial for several reasons, not least of which being that educational officials themselves complain that signing onto it takes educational decisions out of the local level and put them into the hands of decisionmakers in Washington. The website flcommoncore.net, a site devoted to reversing the decision to implement Common Core in Florida, places the blame on an unlikely alliance between the Gates Foundation and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, owner of the Fox network family. The site claims the curriculum is not about reform and improvement of student test scores, but indoctrination.

“In fact, Common Core was written by the same progressive education reformers who have been trying to impose a national curriculum for decades. This time, they were savvy enough to invoke the ‘cover’ of NGA so they could paint Common Core as a ‘state-led’ effort. To the extent states had any input, it was limited to offering suggestions that may or may not have been accepted by the people in control.” – from flcommoncore.net

Common Core has become such a controversial topic several states, including Michigan andIndiana, have put the program onto the ballot as a referendum. Indiana put Common Core to a vote, and it was solidly defeated at the ballot box. Many elected officials have made reversing or blocking Common Core a key plank in their platform. Some critics have argued the program doesn’t develop critical thinking skills, but is instead a means to educate students to the point where they can be little more than workers and not thinkers.

The curriculum’s bureaucratic structure has led to discussion from the blogosphere to talk radio stations in such cities as Tampa, Atlanta and Washington.

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