Cumberland Times-News

April 9, 2013

Common Core requirements affect more than just writing

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

—  It is certainly correct that by requiring proficiency in computer keyboarding by fourth grade — but not handwriting — the Common Core national education standards delivers a heavy blow to instruction in cursive writing, which was already on the ropes in grade schools (“Cursive writing at risk in schools,” April 6 Times-News, Page 1A). However, Common Core has an even more devastating effect on other areas of instruction.

 For instance, English teachers are finding they must cut back on the use of classic literature in order to comply with the Common Core dictate that students read ever-increasing quantities of informational text (including such gems as presidential executive orders and environmental-policy manuals), topping out at 70 percent non-fictional text for high-school seniors.

And math is being reshaped according to a constructivist pedagogy that de-emphasizes student mastery of standard algorithms.

 The question is whether the 46 states that have jettisoned their own standards and tests in favor of this highly prescriptive model will ever be able to reclaim local control.

Efforts at repeal are underway in a dozen states, but Maryland is not one of them.

Robert Holland

Senior fellow for education policy

The Heartland Institute