CLARKSBURG — About 200 people attended the Courtyard Marriott Sunday to hear about Common Core standards in West Virginia from Dr. Sandra Stotsky.
Stotsky, a professor of education emerita at the University of Arkansas, who has a history in education dating back more than 20 years, was called “the world’s most formidable expert on educational standards” Sunday by Angie Summers, a leader in West Virginia Advocates Against Common Core.
“I hope to achieve awareness, educate the legislators, educate the citizens,” Summers said. “They are going to learn that these standards being put into these schools are not going to work. You could say there is no common sense to this Common Core.”
Summers said Stotsky was a key figure in developing educational standards for one of the strongest K-12 programs in the nation: Massachusetts. She said Stotsky has testified before many state boards of education and legislators on educational topics.
“It (Common Core) is beginning to implode faster than anyone thought possible,” Stotsky said. “For West Virginia, this is going to be a disaster.”
Stotsky said that the West Virginia State Board of Education should have asked higher education faculty in engineering to look at the standards and determine if West Virginia students would be able to take advantage of the industries that are now developing here, like oil and gas.
“Here’s the future of West Virginia, economically,” Stotsky said. “The jobs that will pay, they’re going to rise economically. But if you don’t take those courses, if the standards aren’t there, the dumb standards that the state Board of Ed adopted for you, who do you think those industries are going to hire?”
Stotsky said employers would likely hire out-of-state or even out-of-country, while West Virginia students would be left behind. She said another possibility would be that students would spend more time catching up in slower college classes to get the courses they could have had taken in high school.
“There should be some serious rethinking, with your engineering faculty taking a good look,” Stotsky said.
She added that legislators know there is going to be a problem, but are just going to say, “It’s for the children.”
“The only people profiting, as far as we can see benefiting, are the high-tech companies and the professional development providers trying to help teachers teach strategies, and in some cases, teach content that makes no sense to them — that will never be effective — and yet they’re going to be held accountable, which is to me one of the most unfair things about Common Core,” she said.
Stotsky said that four important groups were excluded from the planning and development of Common Core standards: Parents, teachers, legislators and local school board officials.
Summers said Stotsky was on the validation committee and refused to put her signature on a document stating that she thought the standards would be fine. Summers also said Stotsky was required to sign a confidentiality document preventing her from discussing what went on at the validation committee meeting.
Stotsky said the standards are poor and teachers can’t teach material they do not understand, and that is what educators are continuously doing with Common Core standards.
“High school teachers in geometry also seem to be having a terrible time,” Stotsky said. “They’re being asked to approach the teaching of Euclidean geometry with an approach that they never learned themselves in college.
“It was tried in the Soviet Union in the ‘70s,” Stotsky continued. “It didn’t work there. They abandoned it, but for some reason, it found its way into Common Core grade 10. We have teachers being asked to do things that don’t make sense to them,” Stotsky said.
Andy Thompson, an Ohio House of Representatives member and an opponent of Common Core, said he helped craft a bill he is trying to get passed in Ohio. He said he has found that not everyone is willing to answer questions about Common Core.
“You find out that the people in charge are still in charge and don’t want you to question it,” he said. “And they think it’s a great idea.”
Thompson said he was told the bill he wrote had no legs and wasn’t going anywhere even before it was introduced, but it’s now gaining traction.
“Our governor is changing his tone on it,” Thompson said. “I’m encouraged about that.”
Staff Writer Melissa Toothman can be reached at (304) 626-1445 or by email at email@example.com