Liz Bowie usually provides balanced and informative coverage of education issues, but she presented an absurdly rosy perspective on the national Common Core standards for K-12 English and math that start kicking in this fall (“Schools hear call for more ‘rigor,'” Aug. 27).
To say that a “near-national consensus” has formed in support of these one-size-fits-all curricular guidelines ignores the fact that many state legislatures adopted the Common Core in an unseemly rush to qualify for federal Race to the Top largesse, without public hearings or school board votes. Citizens in several states now are pressing their governors and legislatures to reverse course.
To quote only educators singing the praises of this unitary prescription is to ignore the views of serious scholars who have judged Common Core reading to be pegged to a seventh-grade level and math to what’s needed to succeed in a community college, not a university.
It is a safe bet that there will not be a true consensus among English teachers that the standards are on the right track in slashing student reading of classic literature, poetry, drama, and other imagination-stretching texts works in favor of informational texts of the sort used in the workplace. Because of concern for their jobs, many English teachers may be shy about being quoted. A good reporter ought to try to elicit their views nonetheless.
Robert Holland, Chicago
The writer is senior fellow for education policy at The Heartland Institute.