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Letter: Time to stop Common Core

"My child is not common!" Parents all over the country have been holding signs displaying these words at rallies protesting Common Core, the federally led initiative praised by President Barack Obama which establishes a single set of English and math federal standards for all students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Many parents and teachers are worried by this nationalized, top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to education that ties education money for states to the adoption of academic standards that do not reflect states' individual needs.

The fury has just begun. Last week, in Marietta, Georgia, elementary school students were barred from setting foot on school property on a testing day after their parents opted them out of Common Core testing because of privacy concerns. According to a story on the Daily Caller website, the police officer who escorted the children away said their presence at school on a testing day amounted to "trespassing."

These privacy concerns - cited by the Georgia parents - are valid. Common Core has resulted in a massive database that includes private information about students and parents. No one seems to know for sure how the data will be used.

The fight against Common Core has been brewing in the First Congressional District. Carroll County commissioners put together a task force to examine Common Core. Also, shameful suppression of free speech has taken place in Baltimore County, where a critic of Common Core was arrested for speaking out against the program during public hearings.

According to a recent Maryland State Education Association survey, 82 percent of teachers believe that it will be a significant challenge to understand and implement Common Core. Anyone who's read the news, or even watched Comedy Central's Colbert Report, in the last month knows about the poorly worded math questions and the ridiculous, roundabout techniques being taught to solve them.

Two months ago, 42 U.S. House members, including myself, signed on to a resolution condemning the Common Core State Standards as destructive to American education. The resolution, H.Res. 476, criticizes the federal Department of Education's coercion of states into adopting the standards.

Education policy needs to come from our local communities and states, not from out-of-touch private organizations and the Department of Education bureaucrats in Washington. It's time to stop Common Core and return education to parents and teachers.

Andy Harris

Bel Air

The writer is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress representing District 1.

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