September 15, 2013

Another View: Editorial oversimplifies pushback on Common Core

There are good reasons to be concerned about a system that will pressure local school districts.

By DAVID LENTINI

As the chairman of the School Administrative District 60 board of directors (although writing on my own behalf), I found your commentary on Gov. LePage's apparent flip-flop in his support for the Common Core State Standards ("Our View: Common Core will set bar higher for Maine schools") quite interesting. Our board will soon consider how to implement these standards in our district.

However, your commentary presents a very biased picture of those questioning the standards and the very serious questions that have been raised about the standards.

Many educators and citizens of all political stripes are worried about the hasty implementation of the standards for good reason.

The standards were adopted by agreement among the nation's governors, and were developed with strong support from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and many corporate and wealthy education reformers. But there was little public or educator engagement in the process.

And all states are expected to fully implement the standards without any prior field testing, which was disastrous for the last major reform push, No Child Left Behind.

The federal government's Race to the Top funding required adoption of the standards, which meant that states had no choice but to adopt the standards. To borrow an old saying, "You dance with them who fund ya."

Much of the focus is on high-stakes testing and not education. But we already have good national tests on which Maine's children do well.

Finally, where's the money for implementation? How can any reform work while our schools suffer repeated budget cuts? Standards don't educate. Teachers and parents educate, but they can't succeed if they can't get support.

Until we address the real issues affecting school performance, it's a fair concern that the Common Core will be another expensive boondoggle that is a windfall for corporate testing services and a disaster for everyone else.

David Lentini is a resident of North Berwick.

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