Common Core draws criticism in Arkansas


The institution of Common Core standards has been a divisive issue in Arkansas.

Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita in the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform is an outspoken critic of the initiative.

“In general, Common Core standards are not going to be preparing American students for authentic college-level work in any subject,” Stotsky said at a 2013 meeting hosted by the Epping Town, N.H., Republican Committee.

Stotsky served on the Common Core Standard Initiative Validation Committee, and has spoken in forums in a number of states denouncing the move to Common Core Standards and offering what she believes are alternative resolutions.

The committee members, nominated by various state and national organizations, were charged with validating the sufficiency of the evidence supporting each standard.

In a recorded presentation hosted by the Pioneer Institute, a privately funded research group, Stotsky said that, as a member of the committee, her requests to see information supporting college and career-readiness standards were unsatisfied.

While Common Core proponents say the new standards promotes critical thinking Stotsky — who is concerned mainly with the English, language arts, and reading standards — said the change instead will diminish students’ ability to develop critical thinking skills.

Challenging what she said is unsubstantiated research, Stotsky said, “There is no evidence from any kind of research that a stress on informational reading and writing mandated by Common Core would prepare students better for college-level work than an emphasis on what English teachers have always done and been trained to do.”

Stotsky has been the target of those who say her opinions are misguided.

David Pook, an English teacher in Manchester, N.H., was co-author of the English Language Arts standards. Pook and other teachers involved in designing the standards disagree with Stotsky’s evaluation. Their comments refuting Stotsky’s criticism can be found on the website Advancing New Hampshire Public Schools.

“The standards reflect literally thousands of voices, including teachers, even if Dr. Stotsky didn’t perceive that part of the process,” Pook said.

Arkansas Against Common Core is an advocacy group of parents, educators and students who also want to reverse the adoption of the Common Core Standards.

A group spokesperson, Karen Lamoreaux, alleged in an interview with Fox Business that Common Core is part of a takeover of American education by the government and other interested parties.

“They are not preparing our kids for a global economy.” Lamoreaux said.

Among other concerns, the group says on its website that Common Core Standards take decision-making authority from the state and place it in the hands of the federal government, leaving parents and school boards void of influence. Another objection revolves around the testing policy alleging that it will invade the privacy of children and their families via a massive and easily accessible tracking initiative that the group says collects inappropriate personal information.

The group said its fight against Common Core is based on research and analysis of government documents.

For information about Arkansas Against Common Core’s research see: http://www.arkansasagainstcommoncore.com/source-documents.html