Blue States Turning on Controversial 'Common Core' School Standards

Blue States Turning on Controversial 'Common Core' School Standards

As controversy intensifies over new the Common Core educational standards, two Democrat-led states are showing signs of distancing themselves from the curriculum that the Obama administration has supported.

North Country Public Radio reported last week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has appeared to remove himself from the controversial Common Core.

“In recent days, Cuomo seems to have cooled from his initial endorsement of the rapid transition to the adoption of the national education standards,” wrote Karen DeWitt.

Asked by a reporter about the Common Core standards, Cuomo removed himself from the discontent that has generated boisterous meetings with state education officials, parents, and teachers.

In Staten Island, Cuomo referred to the implementation of the new standards as “problematic,” and, in Lake Placid, acknowledged, “It’s been very controversial. It’s very controversial here in the state.”

Cuomo’s comments differed from those of just a month ago, when he focused more on how the change to a new system can be hard.

Nevertheless, Cuomo has hinted that he may engage the state legislature to slow down the Common Core’s implementation.

“The state could pass a law that stops it, starts it, accelerates it, etcetera,” he said.

If the New York State legislature follows through with a slow-down, it will be following in the footsteps of another Democrat-led state–Massachusetts–which, two weeks ago, voted to delay the implementation of Common Core for two years while it compares the tests aligned with the new standards to the state’s existing Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam.

According to Education Week, Massachusetts education commissioner Mitchell Chester, who also chairs the governing board for PARCC, one of the Common Core testing consortia, said that fully adopting the new testing by the deadline of the 2014-2015 school year was “too precipitous” for his state’s schools.

As the Heritage Foundation notes, while achievement gains in Massachusetts have leveled off in recent years, the state has led the nation in its math and reading proficiency, with fourth and eighth-grade students exceeding the national average by nearly 10 percentage points in both subject areas.

Though Common Core supporters claim that the new standards will have the same effect in all states as Massachusetts’ standards did for that state’s achievement levels, opponents say that is not likely.

Last year, Sandra Stotsky, who helped reform Massachusetts’ education system in 1993, and who also resigned from the Common Core review committee, wrote at Heritage that the decreased emphasis on literature in the new standards would diminish the proficiency of students:

[Common Core’s] misplaced stress on informational texts reflects the limited expertise of Common Core’s architects and sponsoring organizations in curriculum and in teacher’s training… A diminished emphasis on literature in secondary grades makes it unlikely that American students will study a meaningful range of culturally and historically significant literary works before graduation.

Massachusetts is joining 15 other states that are now reconsidering their participation in Common Core, four of which have stopped implementation of the tests aligned with the new standards or restricted their involvement.

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