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We should take long hard look at Common Core & what it means

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Common Core and educational freedom don't seem to be one and the same. In fact, most Americans don't even know what Common Core is. But they should because it is directly effecting all of us, especially children who attend public schools. It's the government's plan to try to bring the same standards to every school. On the surface that may sound pretty good, but it isn't.

Often states dumb down test to make sure every child passes. In the case of Common Core, the testing in New Hampshire is called "Smarter Balanced". The government says Common Core is optional, but it really isn't. If each school doesn't give the Smarter Balanced test to every student at the end of the school year (which is based on the Common Core standards), the school will not be eligible for funding that is tied to the testing. The schools want the children to pass so they can receive funding from the state or federal government because they have obediently followed the standards set before them.

Education is a discovery process just as all of life is. We might be wrong about how to teach and what to teach, but we won't realize it unless we can experiment and compare and contrast the results of different approaches. Having a "one size fits all" plan doesn't make room for finding out what works for your child or the next. It does just what it is meant to do; force every child to learn one thing in one way no matter how they learn or even if it's too difficult.

Common Core de-emphasizes correct answers by awarding kids points for reasoning, even when they don't quite get there. When working on a math problem, don't worry if the child is able to get the correct answer because Common Core standards merely want to know how they got their answer — wrong or right. Maybe this is a clever new way to teach math, but if the federal government is wrong, government still gets to decree it's universal solution to the problem and we are told to follow like lemmings.

There is quite a lot of expense involved in creating the environment for Common Core to excel. It means that every student must have a tablet (maybe and iPad), for example, which is the responsibility of each taxpayer to buy and there many more expenses which should probably come in another article.

It means no more books to hone their reading skills. It will not be mandatory to read the "standards" to help with reading comprehension, reasoning, open discussion, and book reports. All reading will be done online and what is read will be left up to the individual teachers and/or schools.

Even their homework is done on their iPad or online and sent in to the teacher when they are done. If they miss a class due to illness, let's say, it is the responsibility of the child to contact the teacher by email and ask for the lesson from that day so he/she can take the quiz which is due the next day. I watched a young child try this method in Gilmanton. Her teacher never responded to her request so she wasn't able to complete the quiz and had to take a zero for not doing her work. So who gets to evaluate that teacher, in this instance? Good question.

With the future riding on young people consuming better forms of education, I'd rather leave parents and children and educators multiple choices. On size does not fit all and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that. Oh wait! There won't be any brain surgeons because they were never able to contact their teachers for the lessons they missed!

That may seem far fetched, and maybe it is, but teachers are hired to teach each individual student and parents are asked to help the teachers by getting involved. We, the taxpayers, are asked to make funding available to the schools so they can produce knowledgeable children who are able and ready to move on in the world.

Education was never meant to be in the hands of government so we should take a long hard look at Common Core and what it means to our children, our schools, and our taxes. Please take some time out of your busy schedules and read about Common Core and have a conversation with your schools and teachers about it. It may be an education for you, too.

Elena Ball
Gilmanton Iron Works