Two Sides of the Common Core Debate

September 19, 2013

Inside Insight

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Editor’s Note: The following column was submitted by Nerve Citizen Reporter Alexandra Allman of Rock Hill. 

Last Thursday, the York County Republican Women hosted a forum on Common Core in Rock Hill. Sheila Quinn, the Clover School District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and administrative services, spoke as a proponent of Common Core, while Sheri Few, president of the South Carolina Parents Involved in Education (SCPIE), spoke in opposition to it.

Dr. Quinn spoke first on Common Core. In 2000, the National Assessment of Educational Progress results were examined nationwide, and there were “extreme achievement” gaps. From this, Quinn pointed to the genesis of Common Core.  A central focal point in her lecture was that Common Core affects “standards, not the curriculum.” She explained that these standards were put in place to make the children college or career ready.

As a mother and an assistant superintendent, Dr. Quinn sees Common Core as beneficial because it will help the children of South Carolina be able to compete in a fair manner in the national arena. She argued that Common Core standards should help level the playing field for children in the global community, and she said Common Core is a better curriculum because of its standards compared to that of 20 years ago. And reminded the group that not too long ago, there were no standards, and students were taught based on the competency and level of enthusiasm of the teacher.

Sheri Few followed up in opposition to Common Core. Mrs. Few explained that the concept of Common Core has been floating around since the “Dear Hillary” letter was penned by Marc Tucker on Nov. 11, 1992. This letter set forth a plan for the U.S. educational system to serve the nation’s economic work force. She explained that Common Core was adopted last year over the Christmas holiday while Congress was out of session. It was during this time the president went to the 50 governors and their state superintendents of education and persuaded them.

One notable talking point Mrs. Few covered was the rejection of centralized standards and centralized educational control across the nation. She rejects Common Core state standards because there is no system of governance, and a private trade association copyrights it. She raised the question of how and where parents, teachers, citizens and legislators can provide their input, describing it as an “undemocratic process.” A second issue Mrs. Few discussed was that of “data mining” of students, beginning in preschool and continuing through college and into the work force. She raised a constitutional invasion-of-privacy concern, explaining that the data can be used for government planning and research.

I was thoroughly impressed that the York County Republican Women not only hosted an event on Common Core for the public, but also took the time to bring in speakers who advocated on behalf and against this issue. What really called to me that evening was the data-mining issue. I think certain requested data, such as a religious affiliation, really are private and should be totally off limits for schools or their hired data banks to collect and monitor. But this is one person’s opinion in a sea of many.