by Jhansi Katechia
A handful of parents, some of whom were wearing red t-shirts that read “Stop the Common Core in CT,” expressed their opposition to implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
The topic wasn’t on the agenda, but they spoke during the public portion of the state Board of Education meeting Wednesday.
“We will have wasted billions of dollars on children’s education on an experiment which is not supported by any real evidence that it will succeed,” retired teacher Kathy Cordone said.
Cordone does not agree with the Common Core standards, which were written by the National Governors Association, the Council for Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, Inc. Instead, she would like for the rules to be written by Connecticut teachers.
“None of the writers were teachers,” Cordone said. “Everything was done behind closed doors, so even if some teachers saw the drafts, there’s no way to know if their input was included in the final product.”
The state Board of Education adopted Common Core in 2010 and at the time there was little opposition. But that’s changed over the past few years in Connecticut and across the country.
Earlier this year, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation reversing his state’s adoption of Common Core. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin joined him last month by signing similar legislation repealing the Common Core in her state.
Connecticut’s Education Committee heard hours of testimony against implementation of the Common Core earlier this year, but no legislation repealing it moved forward for a vote.
Meanwhile, at least two gubernatorial hopefuls have made getting rid of the Common Core a focal point of their campaigns.
Jonathan Pelto and Joe Visconti made eliminating the Common Core a centerpiece of their campaigns. Both are running as third party candidates and both attended Wednesday’s meeting, but neither spoke.
“You are using our tax dollars to administer psychological assessments to our children, without telling parents and without obtaining our written permission,” Cheryl Hill, a member of Stop Common Core in CT, told the state Board of Education.
Hill publicly called on the board to take actions by telling parents what information is being collected from their children, along with where the information goes and who may have access to it.
Hill said that until this is done, she believes that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests are illegal and should be halted. The new SBAC tests will eventually replace the legacy Connecticut Mastery and Connecticut Academic Performance Tests. This year school districts were given a choice of which test to administer and 70 percent chose to the SBAC test.
And while a handful of individuals spoke out against the Common Core Wednesday, not everyone opposes it.
Jeffrey Villar, executive director of Connecticut Council for Education Reform, pledged his support to the Common Core and said that the Common Core Task Force offered a rubric which will help to track implementation of these changes.
This rubric, according to Villar, will take a look at the roles of the Education Department, school districts, parents and the community, and will assign tasks to each.
“So if we collectively hold ourselves responsible for insuring that we follow this very clearly written roadmap written by the Task Force, I believe that Connecticut will be quite successful,” Villar said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the Common Core Task Force through an executive order. The task force released its recommendations at the end of June.
The state plans to spend $2 million for 1,000 professional teacher training days, $2 million for professional development to enhance language arts and math instruction for all students, including those with special needs, and $10 million for school technology upgrades to support the transition to the new Common Core standards. Aside from the $10 million in technology upgrades, which will be added to the state Bond Commission agenda, the rest will come from the Education Department’s existing budget.
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