Veteran Teacher Gives Common Core a Thumbs Down

February 4, 2013 0 Comments

Last week syndicated columnist, Andrea Neal, an adjunct fellow with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, wrote an excellent Common Core article, “Why would we lower our standards?,” which was featured in newspapers around the state.  Neal’s article starts out with a hard-hitting bang:

Plenty of good reasons exist for Indiana to drop out of the Common Core, the national initiative to standardize what is taught in all public schools throughout the country.

It takes away local control. It reduces teacher flexibility. It substitutes the judgment of anonymous educrats for that of expert math and English teachers. It’s too focused on career readiness at the expense of learning for learning’s sake.

But the biggest reason to oppose Common Core has nothing to do with policy considerations and everything to do with quality. The standards are inferior to what Indiana already had in place. They are hard to understand. Yet teacher training, course materials and student testing must all be based on them.

The bulk of Neal’s article focuses on the poor quality of the Common Core ELA standards, about which Neal has the following to say:

One need only read the new standards to spot some glaring problems. They’re wordy, redundant and poorly organized. Some of the language leaves your head spinning. For example, Grade 6 students are to “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence” by using “words, phrases and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.”

Neal doesn’t rely just on her own opinions regarding the quality of the standards, but also includes those of Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served as a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, but refused to sign off on the final product:

Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and national guru in academic standards, gives the Common Core a C- or D+. Stotsky testified Jan. 16 before the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development in favor of withdrawing from Common Core.

It should be noted that Neal’s own opinions actually speak volumes and should not be taken lightly.  As Carmel resident, Lisa Gilligan, points out in a subsequent letter to the editor:

Neal is able to provide a unique perspective that many of the others don’t; she has spent the past 10 years as a full-time English and history teacher. Who better to listen to than someone who, after a successful career as a journalist, felt called to become a teacher?

Longtime Star readers know that Neal has a reputation for being extremely objective and reasonable. Neal’s article should provide more than enough validation to legislators that they should vote for SB193, to withdraw Indiana from the Common Core, if they truly care about the quality of education Hoosier students are to receive.


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