Politics, misinformation feed Common Core debate, education official says

Published: Tuesday, April 17 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"How can you take a whole nation and put it into the same window without hurting the top and bottom?" Ellis said.

Dickson said that under Common Core, accelerated tracks and honors courses will continue to be available. If a student is gifted enough to skip courses, parents and school districts can work together to make that happen. 

She also said that with AP examinations taken independent of a classroom, there is nothing to stop a student in their junior year from registering for and taking the test if they feel proficient.

Dawn Davies, Utah Parent Teacher Association vice president, agreed with Dickson, saying the standards set a minimum benchmark for each grade but do not prevent anyone from moving ahead. She said the standards help make students better able to meet global and local business needs and prepare students who are entering or exiting the state.

"We are a mobile society and as people come to our state we need to have the high standards," Davies said.

Ruzicka, however, downplayed the need for inter-state consistency as a solution in search of a problem.

Ellis said she is more worried about federal control than the standards themselves. She said she met with Herbert and members of the State Board of Education but that they had failed to answer her questions, instead turning discussion back to the benchmarks raised under Common Core.

"There's no harm in raising the standards," Ellis said. "I just don't think it should be done the way it's being done."

Dickson said officials focus on the standards because that is, in essence, what the Common Core State Standards are. She said the peripheral discussions of socialism — she's heard the standards referred to by opponents as the "Communist" Core — and federal manipulation is little more than political fodder in a campaign season.

"I have yet to hear any of the political comments that are valid," Dickson said. "It's all steeped in fear and not fact."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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