Experts and Parents Face Off on Common Core


ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 6, 2014)—Maryland parents argued against education experts at a hearing to repeal the Common Core State Standards at the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

Common Core was adopted in June 2010 by the state Board of Education and was implemented at the beginning of this school year. The standards were created by several bodies, including the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, and set universal objectives for students to achieve.

Parents argued alongside Delegate Michael D. Smigiel Sr., R-Cecil, who has introduced a measure to repeal Common Core in Maryland. Parents told lawmakers that they believe the standards are ineffective, untested and command teachers how to instruct.

“No loving parent would choose to support untested standards,” said Cindy Rose, a mother of five. Two of her children are currently in public school and one has special needs, she said.

Various experts, however, testified that they believe that Common Core is beneficial to students and does not drive curriculum, but sets high standards of which students must achieve.

“The curriculum in Maryland will continue to be developed locally,” said Jack Smith, the chief academic officer of the state Board of Education. “The autonomy to local school systems will be tremendous.”

While experts argue that the standards don’t directly outline a curriculum that teachers are required to instruct, parents said they believe that claim is a matter of perspective.

“I continue to be frustrated with those who claim they’re standards and not curriculum,” said Margaret Bibbo, an instructor at Anne Arundel Community College. “The standards drive the curriculum.”

Bibbo, who holds a PhD in education and instruction, is also the mother of two students.

Parents and experts alike gave testimony that teachers supported their side.

“Most teachers that I’ve talked to agree that they believe that Common Core is the way to go, ” said Delegate Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s. “But … implementation seems where the question is.”

Smigiel, however, said: “Not one teacher has come up to me and said they like Common Core.”

“Teachers are deathly afraid to speak out against Common Core,” said Clair Sumner a mother of two students, one with autism, and a previous kindergarten teacher.

Others expressed concerns that the state did not act independently in its adoption of the Common Core standards.

“I found it as the federal equivalent of Obamacare,” Smigiel said. He, among others testifying with him, noted the federal dollars that came as a result of adopting the standards and said that they incentivized the state.

The federal money came from the Race To The Top grant. The state used its adoption of Common Core in its application for the grant.

While not all states adopted Common Core, many approved standards that are similar.

“Look at Virginia’s standards,” Smith said. “They mirror the Common Core State Standards.”

While Smith and those opposing Smigiel’s bill refuted many of the claims the parents made, one argument was left untouched.

“I found it interesting that Dr. Smith noted all of the stakeholders that he considered, but not once did he mention parents, specifically,” Bibbo said.

Smigiel and his supporters noted that about half of the 45 states that adopted Common Core were now rescinding.

Those states, however, asked the federal government for temporary waiver, according to the committee

Parents were also frustrated that they hadn’t had a voice in the matter.

“It’s the first time [parents] have had the opportunity to speak,” Bibbo said.

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