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Common Core opponents fear courses will suffer

Critics of standards say teaching of literature will take a backseat as emphasis shifts to informational texts

Opponents of the Common Core State Standards say they have a variety of concerns about the effects the standards will have on school districts’ curriculum.

Math standards under Common Core will push the teaching of algebra back a year, from eighth to ninth grade, in many districts, say Lindsey Burke, educational policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Jim Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute. Both also insist that the teaching of literature will take a backseat as emphasis shifts to informational texts.

“Overall, it will not prepare our kids as well as what we had before in Massachusetts,” Stergios says. “The Common Core is better than the standards in probably 20 to 25 states at most. … And that will essentially lock in mediocrity.

“We all complain that the United States is not competitive with X country or Y country,” he adds. “Yet we’ve pegged the standards at the mid-section of the country. That, to us, is a real lost opportunity.”

Yet virtually every professional association of math teachers has endorsed the standards, says Mel Riddile, associate director of high school services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals. On the English/language arts side, he says there was initial reluctance due to a sense that literature and fiction were being deemphasized, “but that’s turned out to be one of the myths,” he says.

Common Core supporter Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, has studied U.S. students’ performance on international tests against others countries. He says all higher-performing nations have something akin to the Common Core.

“They use those standards to drive the improvements of their educational system,” he says. “It’s really quite an indispensable feature of a top-performing educational system, looking globally.”