Lawmakers Request Specifics on Common Core Standards
HARRISBURG –Last week, three state representatives issued a letter to Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Ron Tomalis requesting more information about the impact that the pending imposition of national Common Core Standards may have on Pennsylvania school districts.
Reps. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland), Rob Kauffman (R-Cumberland/Franklin), and John Lawrence (R-Chester) asked Tomalis to clarify aspects of the Common Core Standards, including how the standards would apply to private schools and those who are homeschooled, estimated costs of implementation and ramifications for curriculum.
Specifically, the lawmakers expressed concern that by seeking to qualify for federal education grants, PDE may be exposing school districts and students to mandated federal education requirements and textbooks, removing the local control Pennsylvanians demand from the schools funded by their tax dollars.
“I have constituents who are very worried that attempting to adhere to Common Core Standards will end up distracting and detracting from the efforts of our school leaders and teachers,” Bloom said. “Our schools need to be flexible to focus on the education of our community’s children, not satisfying the whims of Washington bureaucrats.”
“There are rising concerns that the Common Core could mean taking away control from our locally elected school boards,” said Bloom. “Federal mandates or coerced obligations to federal authorities risk dumbing down our educational outcomes and leaving our kids behind in the global economy.”
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a set of academic standards, developed as a result of a nationwide initiative to adopt a consistent set of educational standards among the states. Presently, 45 states and the District of Columbia, as well as three U.S. territories, have adopted these “voluntary” standards. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education adopted the standards in July 2010 for English language arts and mathematics through regulatory process, without legislative approval. The transition to Common Core began during the 2010-11 school year. According to PDE, full implementation is expected by July 1, 2013.
A copy of the lawmakers’ letter sent to Tomalis is available here. The letter is also available for download at www.RepBloom.com.
Representative Stephen Bloom
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abbey Fosnot
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