Let Georgians decide what our students learn

Common Core is the latest in knee-jerk reactions to “fix” education.

This offshoot of No Child Left Behind should be outed as what it truly is, an end run around the U.S. Constitution. The current Georgia Senate Bill 167 is a valiant effort to have Georgia students evaluated by Georgia educators on Georgia-designed standards.

Common Core was developed by the nation’s governors who wanted to adopt national standards. There are several problems with this. One problem is what is important in Montana may not be important to students or educators here in Georgia.

As a social studies teacher, I want to ensure Georgia students know about Georgia history and not a skimmed-over U.S. history that leaves out Georgia.

Common Core also passed along more testing. With the current state of testing — with eighth grade missing up to 20 to 30 days of school due to some type of testing — this equates to a month or more taken out of learning to administer a test.

Given the model of one-day, one-test to assess student learning, I wonder what would happen if teachers execute the same model. How long would a teacher last if they told their class that their entire grade for the year would be based on one test at the end of the year? This high-stakes testing model has lasted and failed for almost 40 years and is just now being questioned.

Many colleges and universities are doing away with evaluating incoming freshmen based on ACT and SAT scores and parents across the nation are opting students out of fundamentally unsound standardized testing. The only question is what took so long?

Lastly, and most importantly, Common Core is an end run around the U.S. Constitution. Since federal authorities are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution to set state education policy, a consortium of states adopted a set of standards that all students in the U.S. should follow. Sounds like a national set of standards to me.

This is what teachers want: engaged students, education standards that are relevant and true assessments. Educators need to have input to these assessments so as not to be handed a set of arbitrary standards set by people who have not set foot in a classroom for meaningful learning in decades.

In my hundreds of meetings with parents, I’ve yet to see a parent show a greater concern for a score on a standardized test than on the day-to-day assessments by teachers. Parents want and deserve to see consistent, fair assessments of their child.

Most of the comments I’ve heard are that there is too much standardized, K-12 testing of their child. I’ve never heard parents say they want more testing and less influence in deciding what is taught in the classroom. That is exactly what Common Core has done.

SB 167 is the first attempt by legislators to separate Georgia from the testing lemmings and should be applauded. They are fighting the good fight and righting wrongs that are being perpetuated upon our students and education system. What Georgians need is a commonsense approach to education that lets Georgians decide what is best for our students.

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