To the Editor:
Joanne Yatvin (“How to Improve the Common Core,” Sept. 25, 2013) identifies three important problems with the Common Core State Standards and offers thoughtful solutions. But she does not address five essential problems that I believe the common-core standards have.
First, reading is conceptualized as textual analysis rather than a personal transaction between the reader and the text. There is no mention in the common core of the importance of personal connections and response.
Second, reading is conceptualized as a test-based process. There is no mention of the importance of bringing prior knowledge to reading to support comprehension.
Third, common-core instruction in many schools is dominated by scripted programs that focus on preparing students for tests. What about teaching thoughtful literacy?
Fourth, the common core has resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum that has eliminated, or greatly reduced, arts education in some schools.
Fifth, the common core has created unfunded mandates. As a result, districts are laying off teachers and making drastic cutbacks in special programs.
I also do not agree with Ms. Yatvin’s pessimism regarding the ability of critics to make the standards “go away.”
At the same time that I oppose the common core, as a teacher-educator I am committed to preparing my students to use research-based, effective practices to teach thoughtful literacy beyond the scripts that will lead to student success on the common-core tests.
Michael L. Shaw
Professor of Literacy Education
St. Thomas Aquinas College
A version of this article appeared in the October 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as Commentary Missed Five Flaws in the Common-Core Standards