Durable Alternative to CCSS

To the Editor:

In last week’s Hollis Brookline Journal, Lynne Dougherty requested alternatives to Common Core state standards and expressed indifference for “local (parental) control of education.”

I’d like to respond by recognizing that this issue cannot be adequately debated, and parents cannot be adequately educated through editorials. Lynne and all of us parents should get educated on this very important issue. I suggest by Googling “Everything common core, Ravitch” and reading the Washington Post article.

The “standards” are a small starting point of CCSS. The majority of the problem is the “how” those standards will be achieved. Anyone can set lofty goals but how do they achieve them? Interestingly, the CCSS goals are not very lofty at all. It moves geometry from the eighth grade to the ninth grade and eliminates calculus from 12th grade. This is the dumbing-down side of CCSS you heard tell of.

The rigorous part of CCSS is found in grades K-3, where curriculum is age inappropriate, tests are confusing, homework is laborious and frustrating, causing students to feel stupid and dislike learning. Again, read the Washington Post article and its links.

So, what would be a good alternative to the untried and unproven CCSS approach to education? Sounds like a challenging question but the answer is really just simple common sense. Massachusetts had been the top educational achieving state in America in the NAEP testing, the Nation’s Report Card, in all subjects and all grades tested beginning in 2005. No state has ever accomplished this and they did it five times. They were so successful they entered and competed in the international PISA exam as its own country and ranked fifth in the world. Impressive, eh?

So, on the one hand, we have an untried and unproven federally controlled system, and on the other, we have a state-controlled local system that dominated the national educational achievement testing in all grades for five years and then tested internationally and ranked in the top 5 worldwide.

So what would common sense tell us about CCSS and the Massachusetts alternative? Since the Massachusetts alternative delivers proven results, is established, fully functioning and no doubt would cost much less to implement than the five phases of CCSS (we’re in Phase I now), I think the choice is obvious. The antithesis of common sense would be to lower local standards in favor of unproven national standards that are designed to bring-up struggling inner city schools.



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