Controversy over Common Core Standards Affecting Numerous States

This week, Maine became one of several states that are considering changing course on the national Common Core public school standards. A new panel will send recommendations to the Legislature in 2015. Maine's Education Commissioner Jim Rier said that the Common Core standards, part of a wider set of standards called Maine Learning Results, are a very important foundation on which the students of Maine public schools base their education. He added that many parents' and educators' view of the standards is obscured by misconception, reports Christopher Cousins of the Bangor Daily News.

"It's hard to get the public engaged," Rier said. "I want to take advantage of the attention that [the Common Core] standards are getting right now so we can get this [review] done."

The Common Core State Standards list what public school students should know at the end of each grade level all the way through to high school graduation. They were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School officers with participation from all but a few states. These standards were voted to be incorporated into the Maine's Learning Results by unanimous legislative agreement and Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed it into law in 2011. Maine Equal Rights Center and a group called No Common Core Maine are gathering signatures to force a statewide referendum to pull Maine away from the Common Core.

Dr. Susan Berry, writing for Breitbart, says that Oklahoma is being punished for repealing the Common Core standards and going back to its previous academic standards by reversing the state's waiver from No Child Left Behind, making Oklahoma the second state to lose its waiver from the law.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is outraged that the Obama administration is trying to dictate how Oklahoma schools spend education dollars — an example, she says of an out-of-control presidency that places a politicized Washington agenda over the well-being of Oklahoma students.

Fallin signed a repeal bill of the Common Core standards in early June which allowed the state to return to its PASS standards.

The loss of the waiver means that according to the law, 100% of students must be performing at grade level in math and reading by this school year. If this does not happen, the result could be total reconfiguration of staff or private or state takeover of the school.

Oklahoma will have to set aside $29 million in Title I dollars for tutoring, school choice, and professional development.

No independent research has been conducted to validate the claim that the Common Core standards are "rigorous".

Jason Richwine of National Review Online quotes November's American Journal of Education as reporting that research behind the Common Core identifies problems, such as US poor international standing, achievement gaps, high school graduates with no basic skills, etc., but does not write standards to address those problems.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Louisiana Republican, says that the Obama administration manipulated states with federal grant money that forced them to adopt the Common Core standards.

Kentucky School Commissioner Terry Holliday and president of the board for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) called out the USED for violating state and federal laws regarding the standards and assessment processes of states.

Policymakers in many states seem to be having buyer's remorse over the Common Core, say Kimberly Hefling and Julie Carr Smyth of the Associated Press. The fight to appeal the standards is flaring up in Ohio, where Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) says "it's kind of a creepy the way this whole thing landed in Ohio with all the things prepackaged". However, states were behind the standards in 2009 when it seemed like a good idea that would create high standards across the country would allow shared resources, comparable student performance measures, and smoother school-to-school transitions.

There were incentives, too. Teachers unions nationwide endorsed them. But now, even GOP presidential candidates are divided over the Common Core. The argument seems to have spilled over into a general debate over standardized testing. Still, some, like Patrick McGuinn, a political science professor at Drew University, want to remind the public that the standards and the assessments designed under them are generally considered acceptable or of high quality. And, Republican Gov. John Kasich says he still backs the standards.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican, says:

"It's just a situation that I don't think should have become political, which has become politically toxic and I don't really know how to decontaminate that."

The Associated Press has released a state-by-state look at the Common Core standards.

09 18, 2014
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