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Chester County Press

Sen. Dinniman, the Common Core curriculum, and our children

11/20/2013 01:38PM ● By Acl

Letter to the Editor:

In a meeting last month at the New Garden Township Building, our State Senator, Andy Dinniman, discussed with a group of 20 concerned citizens the issues that he sees with Common Core and the Keystone Exams.

They include the following:

Local control:  Common Core effectively takes away local control of education from the state, school districts and parents.  This is completely against the 10th amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Unfunded: Dinniman talked about the fact that this is an unfunded mandate from the federal and state government. The Pennsylvania Department of Education originally projected that it would cost school districts in the state $2.6 billion to comply, and now they say there would be no additional costs. They still refuse to answer any question on this sudden change.

Over-testing:  Just for example, the administering of the test costs a lot and if the child does not pass the Keystone exam the first time, they are allowed to take the test two more times to pass. To do this, they must be given remediation (tutoring) by a teacher to assist them in passing the test. If they still do not pass the test, they have to do a special project with a teacher to graduate. All this costs money. The Department of Education still refuses to answer the requests for the costs of this and other information from the Senate Education Committee.

As William Butler Yeats wrote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” What is the purpose of education? Is it to fill the bucket or to light the fire? "Fill the bucket" is teaching to the test. The students are now over-tested, and with Common Core, there will be even more high-stakes tests. Graduation will be determined not by your local teachers and administration, but by some bureaucrat in the government. Schools would be wasting money giving the tests, and 10 to 20 days preparing the children for the tests. This is losing valuable time they could be actually teaching, or lighting a fire.

The other Common Core issue discussed was that it was a totally untested program that has lower standards than our schools in Chester County already have. Common Core should be left to local schools to decide if they want it or not.  The state and federal longitudinal databases that would have all your child’s records from kindergarten through entering the job force (P-20) and due to recent changes in the FERPA (secrecy) regulations for your child’s school records, the government can release your child’s confidential records without your permission to any agency or business they deem appropriate.

Please contact your legislator now and just say no to Common Core!

Charlie Beatty 

Avon Grove