Monday, May 04, 2015

Writer says Ky. governor candidates spreading misconceptions about Common Core

In Kentucky, the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards, Republican candidates for governor are spreading misconceptions about the initiative, saying they will repeal it if elected, Joseph Gerth writes for The Courier-Journal.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin said the standards don't require students to learn the multiplication tables, and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said that according to the standards, "two plus two doesn't equal four anymore." Former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott said he felt fortunate to have finished high school "before the federal government came in and said we're here to help you." Former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner agreed the standards should be repealed but "couldn't name one problem with the standards other than the fact that the federal government has endorsed it," Gerth writes.

The aim of the Common Core is to establish standards for what students should learn in school each year. Schools in some states were not providing students with the education they needed to prepare them for college and the working world, Gerth writes. When President Barack Obama's education department endorsed the program and provided monetary incentives for the curriculum's adoption, people became concerned about government overreach.

The Common Core allows schools some flexibility in teaching methods but encourages them to look beyond age-old methods such as rote memorization. However, Gerth writes that his daughter attends a Common Core school and has to learn the multiplication tables. Decisions schools are making about the multiplication tables and other concepts are made locally, which the Common Core initiative allows.

Comer's assertion that under the Common Core, "two plus two doesn't equal four anymore," he is probably referring to the fact that "students can get credit for employing the right techniques to get an answer, even if they ultimately get the wrong answer," Gerth writes. "We used to call it partial credit when I was a kid."

Some say the Common Core's standards need to be improved and made more difficult, and that's a worthwhile discussion. "Candidates have a responsibility to keep the discussion smart," Gerth writes. "They aren't doing that now." (Read more)

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