Common Core education standards continue to generate news both locally and nationally.
The Aug. 25 Carroll County Times lead story "Common Core hits bumps in Carroll" centered on one family's struggle with the impact Common Core had on their son's math work, which frustrated his parents and the student to the point that they have taken him out of our public school system.
The family determined that home school was the best way to avoid what they viewed as negative aspects of Common Core. The story indicated that the family's older children had performed well in Carroll County Public Schools, and that until recently their son had as well.
The Hechinger Report, an education news non-profit platform, had an article on Aug. 15 headlined, "Why states are backing out on common standards and tests." The first line of the story told a reader that, "The bloom is surely off the rose of Common Core, the new English and math standards pushed by Washington, D.C., education trade organizations and the Obama administration."
The story noted that over recent months some states have elected to defund or paused implementing the standards. Others have withdrawn from "consortia developing tests tied to them."
The article recounted how the Obama administration has utilized various kinds of incentives, such as funding through the Race To The Top grants and waivers from No Child Left Behind, to convince states to adopt Common Core standards and assessments. However, "states are belatedly taking a clear-eyed look at Common Core," the story noted. According to the story, higher performing states will not like what they will see.
The story suggests that this process will ultimately lead to a race to the middle due to pressures that will set national standards at levels that will be realistically attained by students from all states.
Hechinger notes that other states fear vastly increased costs of testing under Common Core.
Locally, three candidates for our board of education have made opposition to Common Core the centerpiece of their campaign. The three advertised this position together in the primary on 4x8 signs. They have taken this effort to another level in their general election campaign, paying for a number of billboards on our busier state highways encouraging folks who are fed up with Common Core to visit a website.
Being the curious sort of fellow that I am, of course I had to visit. This site does not offer traditional elements of a campaign website, such as biographical information on candidates, photos of candidates or issue stands. Instead it offers descriptions about the elements of Common Core and what the candidates find objectionable about it.
In the general election, voters may vote for up to three board of education candidates. Six candidates are on the ballot, having garnered enough votes in the primary to make it to the general election.
Half of these candidates have staked out a clear position on Common Core. I don't know where the other three candidates stand on this important issue.
One might think that budgeting would also be an important issue at the board of education level. I think the Common Core issue is a more vital question.
I'm sure any member of that board would always want more money to spend on our schools. However, the funding level decisions are actually made by those levels of government with taxing authority, namely the Board of County Commissioners and the General Assembly.
Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Friday. His email is email@example.com.