In her article, “Four Common Core ‘flimflams'”, Carol Burris strikes down the most oft-heard statements from Common Core proponents. Ohio parents will recognize these talking points as they are frequently parrotted by school officials, the Kasich administration, and some members of the state legislature. th

The Washington Post published Burris’ article and reported that she is a New York high school principal and a previous supporter of Common Core. Once NY started implementing the standards, Burris had a change of heart.

Please find the four “flimflams” outlined below with a summary of Burris’ major points. Burris’ full editorial can be found HERE.

Flimflam #1: The Common Core standards are internationally benchmarked and grounded in research.

It’s easy to say the standards have been benchmarked, but exactly which countries are they benchmarked against? Try as she might, Burris says she can’t figure out which countries were used as benchmarks.

As far as being grounded in research, Burris links to a 2010 statement from 500 early childhood experts which called on the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers “to suspend their current drafting of standards for children in kindergarten through grade three”. Find the Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Experts on the Common Core Standards Initiative HERE.

Experts from respected universities and childhood programs from all over the country signed the document including at least four from Ohio. Yet in all of the hubbabaloo over the Common Core implementation, this document seems to have gone unnoticed by the school boards and state officials which adopted Common Core. Judging from the number, quality and geographical scope of the organizations represented, the joint statement appears to have entailed a serious effort which should have given some officials somewhere pause.

Flimflam#2: The standards are merely goal posts and do not tell teachers how to teach.

Burris disagrees and says that instruction is embedded in the standards.

She provides the following example:

Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 18 = 10 +8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.

Flimflam #3: The Common Core will close the achievement gap.

The opposite appears to be true, at least in New York and Kentucky where Burris tells us the achievement gap widened on the Common Core state achievement tests.

Burris points to Common Core’s reliance on standardized testing as a reason for the widening achievement gap noting that poor and minority students have historically performed poorly on such tests. Burris contends the underperformance of poor students has more to do with the discrepancy in the services offered than in any lack of content standards. With the focus entirely on standards, Burris writes that the “Core-ites” are able to “pretend that low expectations are the only problem to be solved”.

Flimflam #4: The problems with the Common Core standards can be fixed at the state and local level.

Burris points out that the standards have been copyrighted so that states cannot alter them.

Any suggestion by officials that Common Core can be amended to meet the needs of individual states or local school districts is just hot air.  The strategy to allay Common Core concerns by tweaking things at the state level was tried here in Ohio. The legislature passed and Governor Kasich signed HB 487 to fix Common Core. The articles HERE and HERE discuss why the fixes put forth in HB 487 are ineffectual at best and disingenuous at worse.

Burris’ article is filled with links to support her arguments and should be read in its entirety.  Find her article, “Four Common Core ‘flimflams'” in the Washington Post HERE.