Almost 200 people attended a joint House-Senate committee, this week, at the capitol in Boise, Idaho, and many wore anti-Common Core buttons. Parents and educators spoke out against the standards.
House Education Committee chairman Reed DeMourdant and Senate Education Committee chairman John Goedde asked people to bring questions about Common Core.
The panel had six people, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. Three panelists supported the standards and three were against.
Bruce Cook, program director of Madison School District, was concerned by the standards’ impact:
“Now we have kindergarteners learning prepositions… I tried taking the test for a senior in high school. It makes you feel like you’re in a second year math class in college.”
Teachers in his district are spending most of their time teaching Common Core, Cook said. Subjects like Fine Arts and Physical Education are being left behind because teachers don’t want their students to test poorly, which would negatively affect their ranking and potential pay.
Luna said textbooks and curricula were not forced on the state, and he was involved from day one. However, when a state implements Common Core, it must adopt the standards. A state cannot change or delete anything. Anything it adds is not covered on national tests.
“I was involved in this from day one, and Bill Gates and Arne Duncan weren’t in the room,” Luna said. “…You can ask the leader of the Idaho Education Association who can name the teachers involved in the process, and today, Idaho’s teachers are involved in developing the questions that will be used on the (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test).”
The U.S. Department of Education was involved in meetings that led to Common Core and still pours money into the program. States also forfeit their ability to compete for Race to the Top funds if they do not adopt Common Core standards and tests. Stephanie Zimmerman, founder of Idahoans for Local Education, and Dorothy Moon, a retired teacher, told Luna Common Core does take control out of the local schools, and they do not have any input in these tests:
“We have no say in what is put on these tests. None,” Zimmerman said. “When you look at the governance document, that is not part of Idaho’s jurisdiction. That moves our education decisions further away from home.”
Cook also voiced his concerns over control:
“Our school board does not feel like they have the autonomy,” said Bruce Cook… “They feel like their hands are tied that they will be teaching those standards because that’s what we will be measuring our district and school’s health on. We would hope for more local control and less here at the State Department.”
Luna did share their concerns about student privacy. He said he would support any legislature that addresses the issue but did not offer any specifics.