Letter: Common Core rankles

A student works on a problem in a A student works on a problem in a 9th grade Integrated Algebra class at Freeport High school where the lessons are based on the Common Core standards. (March 7, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

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Once again, Newsday has demonstrated how little it understands the issues surrounding the Common Core curriculum it so blithely writes about ["The truth about Common Core," Editorial, Nov. 21].

Few people would argue against an enhanced curriculum that stresses critical thinking and writing, not even white suburban moms. There are, however, two serious problems: the way it was introduced and the testing itself, which is far more advanced than the curriculum.

The Common Core should have been introduced starting with kindergarten, adding one year at a time. This would have allowed for adjustments to the program and enabled children to grow with the curriculum.

The tests are far beyond the developmental ability of most children to realistically succeed. Until the tests are adjusted to match the abilities of third-, fourth, and fifth-graders, I do not believe we will see any major improvements in student scores.

Robert Gerhardt, Huntington Station
 

The writer of " 'Appalling' call to boycott school tests" [Letters, Nov. 22] is outraged that education expert Diane Ravitch would urge school superintendents to boycott the tests.

Which professional educators with experience working with children participated in the design of the Common Core? Please name some. Which teachers colleges participated in its design? None. Was there peer review in journals? No.

Where has Common Core been piloted or tested? Nowhere. So how do we know it will have a positive and not negative effect? We don't.

Are there connections between those who designed the Common Core and corporations? Follow the money. It was designed with grants from foundations led by corporate executives, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Suburban and urban moms of every race deserve to have a school system designed after the private, prestigious Lakeside School that Bill Gates attended. And I assure you, the Common Core curriculum is not taught there.

Joel Herman, Melville

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The Common Core has a structural flaw that is and will continue to defeat its promise. It structures everything -- curriculum, tests, etc. -- around grade levels.

The primary reason for the rampant mediocrity of the educational system is its failure to deal with individual student differences. It has been pointed out that the Common Core curriculum is not age appropriate for many students.

The more important difference is student language achievement level. If we look at the reading achievement scores in a seventh-grade class, for example, we see that most are reading below or above grade level. When all receive instruction at the seventh-grade level, those below seventh-grade level are frustrated and those above are bored. This causes not only academic failure but also discipline problems.

It is truly ironic that we pay such lip service to diversity while ignoring this individual diversity, the only one that really matters for learning.

This latest reform effort includes the same critical flaw in the system as all previous reform efforts.

Thomas F. Kelly, Greenport

Editor's note: The writer is a professor of educational administration, leadership and technology at Dowling College.

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