Sandra Stotsky: Common Core gets things backward

Sep 1, 2014 by

In a crowded room at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Bridgeport Aug. 24, members of the Legislature, parents, teachers, school board members and concerned citizens gathered for an open Common Core curriculum town hall forum, featuring Sandra Stotsky.

Originally part of the Common Core Validation Committee and one of five who refused to sign off on Common Core State Standards, Stotsky has since traveled to 30 states, sharing her story of why she considers the state standards not only mediocre, but “backward” in academic delivery.

When it comes to credentials, Stotsky’s list stretches almost as long as the number of states she’s visited.

Currently, she is professor of education at the University of Arkansas and served as senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she was in charge of developing or revising all of the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure tests along with teacher and administrator licensure regulations. She also served on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel and was editor of the research journal, Research in “Teaching of English,” published by the National Council of Teachers of English. Additionally, Stotsky has published in professional journals and written several books. She completed her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and her doctorate in reading research and reading instruction at Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Violation of Civic Procedures

Stotsky, who “has always loved the idea behind open town hall meetings” and “being able to participate in the affair’s of one’s own community that you live in and pay taxes for in some way,” said she found common core curriculum “to be in violation of almost everything (she) had ever learned about civic procedures.”

Because the state standards were developed by three private Washington, D.C.-based organizations — the National Governors Association, The Council of Chief State School Officers and Achieve Inc.— and all funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Stotsky said she finds herself “in the position of constantly contradicting one of the major talking points,” which are that the standards are state-led.

Because they are all private organizations, there is nothing to request under the Freedom of Information Act for detail.

“There was no way anyone could ever get information from any of these organizations about why anyone was appointed to the committees, what their charge was, what they were paid,” Stotsky said. “To this day, you can’t find out why people were chosen for the committees they were put on to create the standards and why the chief writers were chosen.”

The absence of high school math teachers, English professors and high school English teachers throughout the process is what prompted Stotsky to ask to be placed on the validation committee and the first thing that “hit me and woke me up — figuring out why the very people who should have been on these standards development committees weren’t there,” she said.

Not only were the expected types of people absent, Stotsky said, but the fact that those within the Common Core project set up their own validation committee also left much to be desired.

“If you want something evaluated, you do not ask the people who carried it out to evaluate what they carried out themselves. That makes common sense,” she said. “You ask for an independent group to do it.”

New Approaches, Old Subjects

Once on the validation committee, Stotsky said she quickly realized “we were intended to be rubber stamps” and simply “supposed to do what they told us to do.”

When it came to the public comment draft in math, Stotsky said James Milgram, professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University and also a member of the Validation Committee, didn’t understand what happened behind the scenes after seeing the final draft. Changes from the public comment draft were so drastic, Stotsky explained.

By 10th grade, many states teach the Euclidian approach to geometry, a proof-based approach to Euclidian geometry and an approach Milgram understands well.

via Sandra Stotsky: Common Core gets things backward – Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.