Federal common core education standards discussed

PLYMOUTH - While the state of Indiana takes a “pause” to re-evaluate the move by public schools to Common Core Standards the debate at the grass-roots level has begun to heat up.

We The People of Marshall and Fulton County hosted speaker Joy Pullmann, a Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute based in Chicago to speak on the subject at the Plymouth Library on Thursday night. Pullman addressed a capacity crowd that included State Representative Tim Harman and State Senator Ryan Mishler on details about the educational movement that was accepted as part of the Indiana public education system in 2010.
Common Core has been adopted by all state education systems in the nation except for Texas, Virginia and Nebraska. Minnesota adopted only part of the program. Recently the Indiana General Assembly paused implementation of the program for further study and debate.

Pullman studies Common Core for the Heartland Institute and presented the assembled with several concerns about the adoption of the program.
First of all the right of privacy seems to be greatly threatened by the way tests are administrated online. Pullman says that “data mining” or collection is a main objective of the standards tests that are administered entirely on the internet. According to Pullman the data is used ostensibly to research and gain information on ways to improve learning and testing but extensive personal information about the specific student and their family that has nothing to do with the test is made readily available - not just to those working on Common Core but to the federal government.

Pullman stated the quality of the program was also questionable. She pointed to the fact that previous Indiana standards for students were higher than those in Common Core. She said many experts believed that in spite of claims of Common Core proponents as a way to “catch up” with international standards, the program actually was considered “mediocre” when compared to those programs.

Cost was another concern in Pullman’s research. She stated the emphasis the program places on technology would mean a minimum of one computer for every two students. The resulting need for new textbooks, teacher training, wireless broadband connections and IT support would be an enormous investment for school systems.

Pullman stated that the initial constitutionally stated reason for having public education was to have an educated populace that was capable of participating in their own self government and be college and career ready. She said that Common Core’s oft repeated goal is to prepare students for the work-force.

She did state that several things about Common Core appeared to be positives; an emphasis on leading students away from “self centered” weak writing, and an emphasis on classic rather than “pulp” literature.
Pullman encouraged those who had concerns to become involved and also invited those present to go over her research themselves. The Heartland Institute website is http://heartland.org/ Pullman’s “policy brief” for the organization is available at http://heartland.org/policy-documents/common-core-poor-choice-states.

(Published in the Aug. 12 print and e-editions of the Pilot News)