A Monday night debate in New Hampshire on the pros and cons of the controversial Common Core testing standards has drawn national attention due to the inflammatory and anemic statements by the proponents.
Held at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, the quote of the night from the six participants came from Dr. David Pook, who teaches Social Studies and English at the tony private school, Derryfield, reported radio host Rich Girard, who was there.
Claiming he had input into the content of the standardized English test, Pook said, “One of the reasons I helped write the standards, was that as a white male in society, I’m given a lot of privilege I didn’t earn, and as a result I think it’s really important that all kids get an equal opportunity to learn how to read. I think I had decided advantages as a result of who I was…When I walk into places like Roberto Clemente High School on the west side of Chicago, I think it’s important that those kids have an opportunity to read just as well as I had.”
As if this didn’t raise enough eyebrows, it should be noted that Pook’s $30,000 per year tuition Derryfield does not utilize Common Core, which at the minimum lends a certain amount of hypocrisy to his argument, and at the maximum launches a host of troubling questions.
During Q&A, the other two proponents, Bill Duncan and Tom Raffio, Board of Education members but men who never taught, were asked if they could provide research proving the standards and methodologies were of legitimate value.
Duncan responded that it was “scientific enough” to get feedback from the teachers, and Raffio said that it was proof enough for all the work that went into preparing them.
Their shopworn contentions that Common Core was teacher-written and set against international standards failed to make an impression, according to Girard.
On the other hand, opponents noted that kids learn in different ways and are not developmentally ready everywhere for the same tests, that the math is weak and unfit for advanced science or math, and that the distributed Common Core questionnaire to students asked for the medical history of every member of their family, overly intrusive to say the least.
They also pointed out that the English Language Arts content expert hired by Common Core to validate their standards, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, refused to do so.
Key audio snippets from the two-hour debate can be heard here: