Options ignored for Common Core

Common concern served as impetus for many who attended Commissioner John King’s forum on Common Core Dec. 4 at Jamestown High School. Speakers presented prepared and heartfelt appeals to King and Regent Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett: “I hope you are hearing our voices”; “Is this the best we have to offer our children?”; “My students feel defeated by hours and days spent on testing.”

No great awakening occurred in King even though he heard the same concerns at previous forums. Instead, we viewed a well-orchestrated dog and pony show pushing the Board of Regents’ agenda. Absent was any degree of animation or enthusiasm; King merely kept reiterating his opening remarks about “working together,” “students can perform at high levels,” “opportunities, challenges, and excitement,” “rigorousness” and “joyfulness.”

Unbelievably, King feels there is no alternative to Common Core. His own words reveal a man lacking knowledge and out of touch with the public: “Those who argue for lower standards and that we should expect less from students, I think that they are wrong.” Lower standards?! Hogwash! State citizens are arguing for higher standards, but ones that truly educate their children, not ones pushing a political agenda.

Here’s a suggestion, Commissioner: model New York on 1996 rigorous Massachusetts standards. They truly educated children; Massachusetts ranked number one in the country. And drop the trite phrase “career and college readiness.” Common Core authors lack any understanding of what makes students college ready. Their interest is in developing future workers for the “21st-century global economy,” another empty phrase. Have they forgotten that America has been a part of the global economy since 1492? This isn’t new stuff to us. The phrase says nothing about the future of our country, but it says volumes about our ignorance of the past.

“I don’t think I’ve witnessed this much interruption in a public forum in my life,” Bennett bitingly told the audience. Hard to believe since people followed the rule by providing silent support, standing and waving their arms when they appreciated a speaker’s remarks. Perhaps Mr. Bennett was unaccustomed to having his actions and credibility questioned? The audience became vocal only when King refused to answer certain questions.

A more considerate moderator would have spared us the tactics used by the League of Women Voters president. Granted, time limits are necessary, but cutting off people in mid-sentence-time and again-without allowing them the courtesy of finishing their thought, was extremely disrespectful.

Deann Nelson is a Jamestown resident.