Misconceptions abound in Common Core criticism
To the editor:
The Dec. 13 letter from the lobbying organization, Heartland Institute, in NHBR (“Common Core is bad for business,” Dec. 13-26 2013) is so error-filled that it requires a response.
The first assertion is that there is no evidence that the Common Core will lead to better educated students. But the opposite is the case. The new standards are closely modeled on the best standards in the country, including those of Massachusetts, whose schools are the highest performing in the country. Now, Massachusetts has adopted the Common Core. Beyond that, there is extensive international research and benchmarking that drew from the best education systems all over the world.
Heartland's second charge, that the Common Core is about factory-style training, could not be further from the truth. The goal of the new standards is to enable American students to read and think critically and apply their math skills to problems they have never seen before.
Look at how challenging the sample problem is for the 11th grade math test at the Smarter Balanced website (smarterbalanced.org/ sample-items-and-performance-tasks/). And look at the equivalent for reading. Just imagine how your competitive position would be enhanced if an increasing proportion of the applicants for positions in your company were proficient in solving those kinds of problems.
Heartland misses the mark yet again in its third criticism – that the Common Core does not teach students soft skills, like speaking coherently. That's actually a key goal of the new standards. Students learn to express themselves about how they arrived at the answer in math or about what a text says and why they think that. And they learn to discuss all this with their classmates in a productive manner.
The Heartland education policy is to privatize public education by closing public schools and replacing them with charters, vouchers and home schools. The Common Core does just the opposite. It strengthens public education by enabling teachers to set higher expectations for their students.
You can expect Heartland to invest heavily in opposing higher standards for public education, even at the expense of New Hampshire business.
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