For Many, Common Core Standards Don't Add Up

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An Oregon teacher's union is the latest group to oppose the federal Common Core education standards.

The Oregon Education Association asked that the state drop the tests for math and reading next spring, saying they will harm students. But the state's education chief has refused that request.

The Oregon appeal came on the heels of a union vote last week by the Massachusetts Teachers Association to elect a new president who is opposed to Common Core.

Why is there so much push back over Common Core? Dr. Alan Arroyo, dean of Regent University's School of Education, explains more on CBN Newswatch, May 14.

Mark Gajdostik, a parent in the Portland, Oregon suburb of Hillsboro, also opposes the Common Core standards. He opted out of the tests for his boys, who are in third and fifth grade.

They study at their father's workplace, using curriculum very similar to Common Core, but with assistance from dad.

The third-grader, Derek, said he is "more focused."

Gajdostik said he appreciates the ability to help the children work out their math problems.

"Here's how you get the actual answer, and it's not time-wasting," Gajdostik explained. "Real math is quick, and you do real math in the real world."

The Oregon Education Association objects to the math and reading tests because of concerns that teachers are still adjusting to the curriculum.

That means students are unlikely to be prepared for the tests next spring and a very high number could fail.

In the Common Core program, Gajdosik worried that the kids couldn't learn from their mistakes.

"You don't get to see what you got wrong. You don't even get to see what you got right," he said.

But the Oregon Department of Education decided the tests will stay because the current academic bar for students is set too low. They are not as concerned about a higher failure rate if the standards are raised.

This debate is playing out across the nation. All but a handful of the 50 states have adopted the Common Core math and reading standards.

Liberty University English Professor Karen Swallow supports Common Sore. She said the English standards help children analyze texts.

"The Common Core standards are just simply asking students to read the text carefully, understand what a text is saying and how it is making an argument, which is really important," she said.

But the federal government has tied school funding to Common Core, producing fears of overreach and a loss of local control.

Emmett McGroarty, with the American Principles Project, has monitored the impact of the program at the local level. 

"Parents can't get relief from their state officials. They really can't get relief from their federal officials in many respects, and they're left with no one to go to," he said.

The conflict over Common Core jumbles the nation's normal political battle lines. Some conservatives support it, others hate it.

Liberal teachers groups want it postponed, while liberal bureaucrats insist it stay.

In the middle: kids and parents who want a quality education.

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

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