Thursday, June 13, 2013

Letter to Pasco County School Board & Administration

Dear (School Board, Supt. & Asst. Supt):

There has been a great deal of controversy over the implementation of the Common Core Standards.  Indeed, several of the states that had previously accepted the Standards, along with the federal money that came with them, have been reconsidering.  These Standards were often accepted without having been read by the state-level parties responsible.  Now that they’ve been examined by many more people nation-wide, including Education professionals, psychologists, parents and many groups traditionally concerned about the well-being of children, the level of concern has heightened considerably.

This isn’t just about the cost.  I’m sure most Americans would agree that if the Common Core was believed to be an improvement in our schools’ curriculum and methods of delivery, no amount of money would be too much.  The problems most evident to me and others, however, are that the materials, methods and even sequences of instruction in both the Language Arts and Math Standards would be large steps backward, and sometimes even counter-productive, just as we have been working so hard to bring about improvements in academic achievement for all students.

The number of articles, sites, and blogs, etc. addressing this issue have become very numerous, so I have chosen just a few to send to you that I felt were especially clear in explaining how these Standards could cause problems in the future for our students.  For Language Arts, there are two videos – one showing examples of 1st Grade Writing and Reading books and assignments, and the 2nd is a video of a Psychologist explaining why curricula such as this is inappropriate for young children.  I’ve also included an article by an Educator who very clearly explains why an over-reliance on informational text can be damaging to the academic development of students of all ages.  There is much written about the Math Standards as they pertain to the higher grade levels, but the problems with the Math goals begin much earlier than that.  I’ve included a couple posts from my own blog which examine the elementary level of the Common Core Standards.  Common Core books for first, second and third grades, mainly. 

A Clinical Mental Health Therapist's opinion about Common Core materials she reviewed from the video, above.

The first post below is an article about what is going wrong with today’s math teaching methods and material.  The second article answers the question, “Is Common Core going to fix this?”

(Blog Reader, please see "Invented Math & Common Core Elementary Math Standards posts))

In light of these and so many other concerns and doubts as to the positive effect of the Common Core Standards on our students, IVBE believes, should any particular schools still decide to implement them, that parents with children in those schools be given the choice as to whether they desire this or some other curriculum.  It would also be in the best interests of the students that should the Common Core be seen to have a detrimental effect on a student’s learning, that the parents of that child be given the option to remove the student from the Common Core classroom.  These conditions would have the added benefit of giving teachers the choice of standards and methods as well.  This way, we would be moving closer to choices for parents, teachers, and schools instead of further away from choice, which is another fly in the Common Core ointment.

Thank-you for you consideration,

Katherine Livermore, Secretary

Independent Voices for Better Education