Letter: Common Core is not a conspiracy

To the editor,

While I appreciate the concern of citizens like Janet Roberts, whose letter opposing the Common Core State Standards was published here last week, a few incorrect assumptions which Ms. Roberts repeats could use clarification.

Let me begin by saying that I am a middle school English teacher who has been skeptical of the Common Core since I first caught wind of them several years ago. When I heard that my school would be adopting the new standards, I made it my duty to learn all I could about them. The fact that the Common Core were backed by both the Obama administration and Bill Gates, one of the world’s wealthiest men, only increased my skepticism, as I, like Ms. Roberts, believe education is rightfully the domain of families and communities, not governments and billionaires.

But regardless of how we think schools should be run, education in this country has been a federal concern since at least 1979, when the United States Department of Education came into existence under Jimmy Carter. And that leads me to my first point in reference to Ms. Roberts’ letter: the CCSS were adopted by states voluntarily — not imposed by the federal government — so calling their arrival a “federal take-over” makes little sense. Plus, not all states have opted to adopt them.

Ms. Roberts also claims that the “Common Core will dumb down our students’ education,” but she does not say how this will happen. That’s because it won’t. Far from dumbing things down, the Common Core actually raise expectations for reading and writing. True, this could make students’ scores seem artificially lower as schools make transitions to the Common Core, but that won’t mean students will be learning less. On the contrary, it will be a reflection of K-12 teachers adjusting their instruction to scaffold students toward higher achievement.

I’ll close by reminding my fellow citizens to inform themselves competently before passing judgment on the Common Core. Don’t just watch Fox News or read Glenn Beck and think you know all there is to know about a complex, multifaceted issue. Above all, read the standards yourself: go to corestandards.org/read-the-standards. They aren’t perfect, to be sure, and they’re certainly not satisfactory to those of us who want education under local control, but there’s nevertheless a lot of good that can come from them.

Bob Uhl

Beacon Falls