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According to all its well-intentioned supporters, the Common Core standards will improve academics and increase our students’ standing in international competition.

Joel Klein (former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education), in a Wall Street Journal column, claims, “The Common Core’s call for coherent, content-based math and literacy standards” will “undo the watered-down version of progressive education thinking that has dominated the public schools over the past half-century.”

I am a great admirer of Joel Klein’s work in the New York City school system where he instituted charter schools, which did in fact provide content-based curricula. Unfortunately, the actual Common Core standards, which have now been published, are not content-based and do not meet international standards.

Let’s look at mathematics. The Common Core makes our current weak state standards weaker. Fourth-graders will be learning math that third-graders are now learning. Algebra will be put off, and so students will not be able to take calculus in high school. Without high school calculus, students cannot realistically attempt a science or engineering major.

Professor Jonathan Goodman (New York University) found that the Common Core math standards imposed “significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of other countries.”

Look at the reading requirements. In grade after grade students will be taught to “read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.” The students will then be tested by how well they understand a story. If the student passes the multiple choice test, we know the student can read. If the student fails the test, however, we do not know if it is because of a comprehension problem or because the student simply cannot read.

More than half of our students have not in fact been taught to read at grade level. Why not test them on actual reading?

Furthermore, according to Professor Sandra Stotsky, Common Core provides “an English curriculum overloaded with advocacy journalism or with ‘informational’ articles chosen for their topical and/or political nature.” They “put academic quality at risk.”

In the end, the Common Core, like the Vera Katz plan and No Child Left Behind, will result in a further dumbing down of American education.

Chana Cox lives in a rural area outside of Scappose and is a Lewis & Clark faculty member, emerita.

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