Opponents say Common Core oversimplifies education, lessens local control
Common Core State Standards logo. (Submitted illustration / April 30, 2013)
Some states have halted the standards' implementation. The Republican National Committee in early April adopted a resolution against the standards and called for states to withdraw from them, saying it is a federal intrusion on states' rights. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa started a bid to eliminate federal funding for the effort.
Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Folmer has announced plans to hold hearings on May 15 about the state Board of Education's approval of the Common Core national educational standards.
Cheryl Boice, director of the Commonwealth Education Organization, a research group based in Cheswick, said she has never seen more people more unhappy about an issue than this one. The association provided research to the group Pennsylvanians Against Common Core.
"Pennsylvania abdicated their responsibility to groups like the Gates Foundation, special interest groups that framed these standards," Boice said in a telephone interview. "By trying to standardize education they are oversimplifying bigger problems. They are making it sound like the be-all end-all to educational issues."
One of her biggest concerns is that the legislation doesn't look at what Common Core standards will cost. Although supporters made Common Core to appear to be cost neutral, that hasn't been proven.
"Our concern is the bottom line — with budget issues that we are having, what is this going to cost us," she said. "We don't have a good handle on it."
The Common Core is not based on research, Boice said, and parts of it ignore what is known about how students learn, especially in the area of early childhood education.
Brian Brant, a member of the Somerset school board, said he is opposed to Common Core, which will "dumb down" the education process. As an example, students won't be required to be proficient with addition and subtraction until the fourth grade.
"Students should be able to excel in what they can excel in and not be limited by what is imposed on us by the folks in Washington," he said in a telephone interview. "Our kids will be the ones who suffer."
Turkeyfoot school board member Catherine Hinzy is more vehement in her condemnation of Common Core.
"Common Core is our government's sneaky, behind-our-backs way of introducing and teaching the communist way of educating our children," she said in a telephone interview.
She said she saw on programs on television's TheBlaze network that schools will have students wear electronic bracelets to analyze the students' moods and use posture seats to determine if they are sitting correctly.
"I defy anyone to try to put a tracking device on my kids," she said. "This is education without representation. The federal government wants to standardize education nationwide. This can't happen."
Greg Brant, president of the Roof Garden Patriots, Somerset County's tea party, said Common Core is a top-down education system, with all standards set at the federal level. Local districts would administer the federal program, which doesn't allow for individualism.
"What works for a school district in Florida doesn't necessarily work for a school district in Alaska," he said in a telephone interview. "What works for a city school district doesn't always work for a rural school district."
He looked at the Common Core guidelines and found that Common Core standards are preparing students for community college work and not university-level work.
"What concerns me is the Orwellian aspect of the large database of all pupils that will follow them from prekindergarten to graduation," Brant said. "There are standards for biometric monitoring. Are we going to force people into career paths by using a database, taking away free choice?"