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Common Core: Diluting education

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When the debate over Common Core school standards came to a Franklin Regional High School forum, proponents lauded this latest attempt at academic excellence through central planning and critics challenged the farming out of so-called “standards” to a bureaucracy far removed from any school district.

And Pennsylvania ups that ante with standards that supposedly are more rigorous than what's found nationally, says acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq. Really? Panelist Ze'ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education official, called the commonwealth's standards “a diluted, dumbed-down version.”

To wit, testing “proficient” in Algebra 1 is the bar set for students supposedly ready for college-level work. But “proficiency” in Algebra 1 alone isn't enough to prepare students for a community college, Mr. Wurman said.

Joan Benso, president of the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, says Common Core sets “a floor for consistency.” It's the same central-planning argument made by every education bureaucrat since Jimmy Carter's federal Department of Education bowed. Relegating education standards — let alone local control — to a bureaucracy is the reason public education is “broken at its root,” says Peg Luksik, a former consultant with the federal education department.

As demonstrated at this forum, and at debates around the country, the case against Common Core is far more convincing than any argument in support of it.

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