Tuesday, July 14, 2020
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Hogan may be reneging about Common Core

There are people everywhere, even in Maryland, who still oppose the Common Core and everything it represents.

During the gubernatorial campaign last year, Gov Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland, said he wanted to put the brakes on the Common Core State Standards. After he got elected, he didn’t make this a priority. A new commission will look into the possibility that we’re testing our kids too much, but some view task forces and commissions like this as lip service to voters. That is, politicians just keep kicking the can down the road, instead of doing something to solve the problems that voters are complaining about.

And complain they do. Writes Tony Piacente of Waldorf, Md., in Southern Maryland News:

[The Maryland State Department of Education] tries to appease us by cutting 90 total minutes out of the 10 to 32 hours of PARCC prepping and testing (depending on the grade). But on June 23, MSDE voted to add more standardized testing for our kids, starting this fall. Hogan and MSDE use the excuse that Maryland will lose funding or get fined. I believe these are just federal government scare tactics.

Scare tactics or not, the law says the feds could withhold certain money if the state doesn’t test enough students on the standards it has adopted in math, reading, and science. Whether the federal government would enforce those provisions is another question entirely, but the threat isn’t empty.

I understand the frustration of voters, but Gov Hogan has bigger fish to fry than worrying about how many tests our kids take. Consider this: The amount of time teachers spend passing out papers in their classrooms rather than providing instruction or allowing kids to learn from independent reading greatly exceeds the total number of minutes every year spent on PARCC tests, which are aligned to the Common Core.

Nobody seems too concerned about evaluating how efficiently teachers pass out papers, but if we genuinely care about instruction time, note that improving the efficiency on that task alone would definitely help. That’s bordering on the absurd, I know, but we have to consider sometimes how absurd the arguments about politicians meddling in education have become.

And we can argue about the quality of the PARCC tests and whether the state should have chosen differently, but we would still have to have some test mandated under federal law. It might even be worse than PARCC, although given the reaction of students to the PARCC tests, that might not be how it would turn out.

A brief explanation of this series

This article is part of a series of blog posts that will run several times every week, beginning with the new school year. We’ll find a quote short enough but newsworthy enough to include on these pages and open the gates. The series is titled by the Topics tag “Constructive Dialog” and has the goal of pushing for equality under the umbrella of educational opportunity for all students.

We hope, with this series, to stimulate constructive dialog between students, school officials, and caring members of our larger communities, including parents, business owners, religious organizations, and that whole “village” thing that it takes to raise a child.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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