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GOP candidate criticizes new national education standards

Posted by Caitlin Rung  July 22, 2010 10:04 AM

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On July 16, Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester announced his recommendation that Massachusetts adopt a set of Common Core Standards which could eventually lead to the abandonment of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS.

The standards were adopted yesterday by a state education panel. But those who hope to keep MCAS testing in schools have raised concerns over Chester’s new standards and the effect it will have on the students in Massachusetts.

“I am deeply troubled by the recommendation made by the commissioner to move to common federal education standards,” said Brett Schetzsle, a Republican candidate for State Representative in the 6th Essex District. “I have made education standards a key campaign issue from day one because we continually hear that our state's competitive advantage comes from a highly educated workforce and the positive impact on quality of life generated by our public schools.”

The Massachusetts education reform that was implemented in the early 1990’s introduced schools to rigorous testing standards that moved Bay State students to the head of the class. Students in Massachusetts now rank among the best students in the world, according to Schetzsle.

“We must keep our kids competitive by stopping the threat of lower standards and the increased influence of politics on what was an independent state board of education for 170 years,” Schetzsle said.

The goal of Common Core Standards is to get every state to test students the same way across the country. Although Chester has said he will not adopt the Common Core Standards until a “comprehensive review” is preformed to make sure that they are, “as strong as, or stronger than, our current state standards,” he showed his support for the idea behind the initiative.

“It makes little sense for 50 states to have 50 separate set of standards, and for students to be tested using 50 separate assessments,” Chester said in a statement. “In addition, while we have strong standards now, we would be naïve to assume they cannot be improved, and that we have nothing left to learn from others.”

Despite Chester’s belief that Common Core Standards will improve Massachusetts schools, he and Schetzsle both worry that the new standard testing will cause students to slip.

“Our goal is to provide all students in the Commonwealth with the best possible schools, teachers, curriculum and opportunities they need to be successful in school, college, careers and in life,” Chester said. “We are committed to seeing the Common Core Standards process through to the end, but if we ultimately find that the final product represents a decline in expectations from our state standards, we will walk away.”

Schetzsle added, “Massachusetts must be able to continue to lead and chart our own course on education standards if that advantage is to continue in the future,” Schetzsle said. “We should not be selling out the long-term economic future of the state, or our kids, for the glitter of a short-term pot of federal money.”

To learn more about the Common Core Standards, visit www.corestandards.org

  

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