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Educator's Letter Calls Common Core Standards Limiting

 Educator's Letter Calls Common Core Standards Limiting

The fifth and most recent letter in a series between two award-winning principals on both sides of the Common Core debate shows one educator's passionate disagreement with the standards.

The series of letters are between Carol Burris, an award-winning principal in New York, and Jayne Ellspermann, an equally distinguished principal from Florida and are re-published by The Washington Post. The fifth letter is written by Burris and addressed to Ellspermann.

First, Burris notes that in New York, Common Core testing is facing the most resistance by parents and educators to date. "Last spring, the parents of 60,000 New York students refused to have their children take the test. This year the number will be far higher, with estimates of a quarter million or more. Thirty percent of our district’s parents have already handed in opt-out letters," Burris said, according to the article.

But what really concerns Burris in her letter is the claim that Common Core Standards benefit disadvantaged students, a belief that her audience, Ellspermann, agrees with.

"You wrote that the Common Core 'minimizes personal experience, by calling on students to respond to questions with evidence from the text,' thus eliminating what you see as disadvantage for students of poverty as compared to their affluent classmates," Burris addressed to Ellspermann.

Burris points to research that she believes contradicts this supposed benefit of Common Core Standards. "As students read, they interact with the text. Their background knowledge, vocabulary, and life experiences affect their understanding. You cannot level the reading playing field by minimizing personal experience—not only is it impossible, it impedes comprehension," she said.

Burris believes that by having children explicitly reference the text, the Common Core and educators who adhere to its standards are doing students a disservice. "Shouldn’t our students also read like an author and write like a scholar? Should they not also read for pleasure and write to move hearts?" she asks.

"Jayne, there was nothing to prevent you from challenging all children before the Common Core arrived. I am certain you had strategies to level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students prior to 2010. Why do you believe you need the Common Core?"

Stay tuned for Ellspermann's response, and read the full article here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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