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Guest Column

What all parents should understand about "Common Core Standards"
By Jim Fabiano
Jul 30, 2014 - 7:35:37 AM

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I am only a teacher. I've only been a teacher for the past three decades. I, as you should be, am concerned with the implementation of "Common Core Standards". What gives me credibility is I was also concerned about the 2001 implementation of "No Child Left Behind". We all know how that came out. I fear the new program will make a lot of money for the businesses of education and once again leave our students weakened and confused.

It is estimated that the program, "No Child Left Behind", cost our nation $25 billion annually. Since I work in a school that was built before the 1930's, and is in dire need of replacement at a cost citizens of my district simply can't afford because they will be allotted no help by the state; spending $25 billion dollars a year on nothing makes me a bit ill.

Since most parents know little about this newest fix to public education let me attempt to answer the question, "What are the common core standards?" Simply put they are educational standards set as learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. It should sound good so far. These educational standards should help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. These standards should also help parents understand what is expected of their children.

The basic problem with this definition is that education chiefs and governors of 48 states came together to develop what they call the common core. I assume these chiefs of education believe what is important in the State of New Hampshire is the same as what is important in the state of Oklahoma. This confuses me because few people in Oklahoma are interested in marine science while few people in New Hampshire show little interest in the development of cactus. In other words, we are not all the same.

The implementation of "Common Core Standards" has already begun. Teachers across our state and nation are being instructed as to how the standards should be taught, the curriculum developed, and the materials used to support teachers as they help students reach the standards. This is supposedly being led entirely at the state and local levels but for the past two years, as an instructor, I've been inundated with national materials about how one should follow the standards. This, like the "No Child Left Behind" program will make a lot of money for a few people. Money will once again be extracted out of districts which, like mine, desperately need it and sent to education chiefs who own mega-publishing houses ready to send the "how-to" instructions of how to implement the "Common Core Standards.

The, "No Child Left Behind" program cost our schools and neighborhoods massive amounts of tax dollars. The question is how much will the "Common Core Standards" program cost? During the years 2000 -- 2002, the NCLB program cost New Hampshire $224,803,072. This was an increase of $1022 per student. The NCLB program gave New Hampshire $102.00 per student. This information was from "New Hampshire School Administration Association dated March 24, 2004.

The Common Core Standards program has been assessed through some western states. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/state-costs-for-adopting-and-implementing- the-common-core-state-standards/. Concerning California, "Based on the state's past experience, new curriculum frameworks and instructional materials could cost about $800 million for English and math combined. In addition, training teachers in both subjects could cost as much as $765 million, based on an assumption of $2,500 per teacher per subject and counting teachers both in self-contained classrooms and those that teach single subjects. An additional $20 million would be needed for training principals to help them in their work as instructional leaders (based on the amount that the state and the Gates Foundation appropriated in 2001--02 for initial training of administrators). Finally, developing tests based on new standards would add a relatively small amount to the total cost, with the exact sum depending on how quickly the new test questions were phased in and whether the state would retain the existing tests' format, which currently contains almost entirely multiple-choice questions. Participation in an assessment consortium could also affect this cost. Thus, an estimate of the total cost of a more comprehensive retooling is about $1.6 billion over a few years."

So, in other words, here we go again. I don't understand why each state can't put their resources into local schools run by the people who live in the town. We have the infrastructure in place with school boards, superintendents, principals, and guidance officials. Why does a local community have to send their resources off to some unknown administrative unit in order to educate their own children? Can you imagine how our schools could evolve if all that money stayed local. We wouldn't have to worry about some cute titled national program to educate our children. We would only have to be concerned with our children and their futures.

Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine


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