Letter: Quin Hillyer wrong about Common Core

In his column of May 18, Quin Hillyer continued to misinform Advocate readers. This time, the subject was the dreaded Common Core educational standards.

Anyone reading Hillyer’s column couldn’t help but come away with the impression that Common Core is an evil plot by the Democrats to force a specific curriculum on our schools and, thus, grease the wheels for a federal takeover of our local school system.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

For those of you who don’t know, Common Core was not created by the federal government. The standards were written by a group composed of state governors (mostly Republican) and the heads of each state’s department of education (mostly appointed by Republican governors). Our own beloved governor was hip-deep in all of this. He was for it before he was against it before he was for it.

The Common Core standards list what a student should know at the end of each grade. For example, they say that, by the end of fourth grade, a child should understand the concept of fractions and how to add and subtract using fractions. Expecting a child to master this mathematical concept is not exactly the makings of a communist conspiracy — unless you happen to be a conservative in the good old USA in 2014.

There is no such thing as a Common Core curriculum (specific requirements of which textbooks, teaching methodologies, etc., that are to be used). Common Core simply sets a target. It is up to each state to determine how best to achieve that target.

At its beginning, Common Core was pretty much universally hailed as a step in the direction of straightening out the mess that our schools are in. Dissent sprang up when President Barack Obama spoke out in favor of the new standards and offered extra federal money to any state that would adopt them.

Since the motto of the tea party is “If Obama is fer it, we agin’ it,” Common Core moved to the list of other evil (though originally Republican) ideas such as mandatory health care insurance and campaign finance reform.

Now, I’m not an expert in education. I can tell from his writing that neither is Hillyer. However, I can’t see how expecting fourth-graders to be able to add fractions or high school seniors to be able to exercise critical thinking when reading a selection from whatever literature textbook the state chooses is going to put our schools in any worse situation than they are in now.

Perhaps we should do what most of the real experts advise and give Common Core a chance before we waste millions developing our own standards.

Michael Hale

IT consultant

Baton Rouge