Common Core Education Plan Triggers Outcry

January 28, 2014
The federal "Common Core" proposal has drawn criticism from groups across the ideological spectrum

“Common Core” has triggered criticism from groups across the ideological spectrum

DENVER – In response to the raging revolt against Common Core education standards and excessive testing, Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) introduced a bill Monday to halt the implementation of the controversial program.

Senate Bill 136 would delay implementation of Common Core standards for at least a year to allow a task force to hold public meetings throughout Colorado to assess the pros and cons of the program. The bill also requires a cost-benefit analysis conducted by an independent entity.

Marble said the bill was drafted by concerned moms of students in Fort Collins who are part of a growing anti-Common Core network that includes parents and teachers across Colorado and the nation.

“They’re very serious about this issue,” said Marble. “There is no cookie cutter approach to educating our children.”

The protest has enlisted support from an interesting coalition of groups – including Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the Colorado Education Association (CEA union), albeit for different reasons.

“Common Core promises tougher standards and better results, which purportedly will help restore America’s lost luster as an education superpower, even while dumbing-down critical skills like math and English — as only Washington’s uniformity-obsessed educrats can,” stated Colorado AFP Director Dustin Zvonek.

CEA President Kerrie Dallman hasn’t voiced complaints about the nationally mandated curriculum, but objects to measuring 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation by students’ performance on Common Core testing.

In 2010, the Colorado State Board of Education voted 4-3 to adopt Common Core which was required for the state to compete in the federal “Race to the Top” stimulus funding which Gov. John Hickenlooper promoted as a win-win contest.

Critics question the governor’s gamble, but Sen. Michael Johnston (D-Denver), vice chair of the state Senate Education Committee, remains a loyal backer of Common Core which set national standards for math and English curriculum content, student testing and teacher evaluations in K-12 grades.

“(Common Core) means we can compare ourselves to other states. It also means that we can now have one set of people developing tools or support for teachers or assessment measures,” Johnston told Independence Institute President Jon Caldara in June 2010.

“You can now have all of these companies competing to develop one set of best practices,” touted Johnston, who supported Common Cause before seeing the final draft of the national curriculum.

The curriculum was still a work in progress in December 2012 when Sandra Stotsky testified at a hearing before the Colorado Board of Education and warned that Common Core could reduce academic standards by at least two grade levels in public schools.

Stotsky, a professor at the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, spoke  about Common Core problems Tuesday to a group at the state Capitol, and plans to talk with folks Wednesday in Fort Collins.

Though most of Colorado’s school districts opted into Common Core – Douglas County School District did not. The DCSD Board registered its opposition in July 2013 when it passed a resolution stating its opposition to national mandated standards that are far below the district’s Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum.

In response to concerns voiced by parents and teachers, the DCSD board agreed unanimously this month to press state lawmakers to pass a bill to allow school districts and students to opt out of mandated Common Core testing without being penalized.

The tests, the board argued, are not “authentic assessments” of academic achievements.

A sample of the disdain for the national education standards is found on the Parents and Educators against Common Core Curriculum in Colorado website which likens the program to dog food.

“COMMON CORE, Department of Education GRAVY TRAIN, Fed Led Ed,” declares the bolded message over a can of dog chow. A small seal advertises a treat, “Tasty Tax Payer Funded Suckers!”

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