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Can a School District Get Rid of Common Core Math? Hollidaysburg Might Find Out

Opinion - Guest Commentary


We have been told over and over that we cannot get rid of Common Core at the school district level. These standards were adopted “voluntarily” by the states and nailed in by federal reporting standards.

However, several events have transpired that have eroded this impossible web.

So I introduced the idea at the July 17, 2019, meeting of the Hollidaysburg Area School District school board meeting. (Editor’s Note: Lois Kaneshiki serves on the Hollidaysburg Area School District Board of Directors with a term expiring December 2019.)

I said, “Let’s get rid of Common Core math – now!”

Why now?

I read an article in Education Week (July 15, 2019) written by two education Ph.D. candidates, Megan Duff and Priscilla Wohlstetter at Columbia University, entitled, “How the Trump Administration Is Falling Short on ESSA.” (Of course, the headline was trying to bash President Trump, but you have to read beyond headlines these days.)

The article summarized the reforms of the “Every Student Succeeds” Act (ESSA), among which are “the secretary cannot pressure states to adopt specific standards.” If this is true, then we are not required to comply with Common Core.

I remember more than one congressman and a U.S. senator telling me to my face that they “got rid of Common Core.” I didn’t believe them. Of course, it’s a simplistic statement, as there are many moving parts to Common Core.

Are they right?

But what if they are right?

Here are some examples: School districts no longer have to require the Keystone exams as a part of the graduation requirement, which we do not in our district.

The Pennsylvania auditor general just came out with a report recommending that we completely eliminate the Keystone exams, which were developed specifically to comply with Common Core.

Go on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website and look at the math standards. They are very general. They do not dictate the crazy methods that are now being used to teach elementary level math.

Why are we doing it?

So the question is: Why are we doing it?

We are doing it because after the Common Core standards were adopted, curriculum companies were in a frenzy to come up with new curricula to “align” with the new national standards. School districts invested a lot of money to comply with these new standards, i.e., purchase lots of new curricula materials.

But there is a gap between the actual curricula and the standards as written. Read the standards and tell me that translates into a new math that engineer parents of third graders can’t figure out – it doesn’t.

My argument was that we can comply with these standards with the old or an even better new curriculum. We don’t need to do the new Common Core crazy math that everyone hates.

This was my argument. My director of curriculum was not happy with my presentation. She stated curtly, “We are in compliance with the state standards and we will stay the course.”

I need five board members to force the issue and get rid of Common Core math. We have a new board in December.

We will see … .


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