The effect on special-needs students with severe cognitive impairments has not received sufficient attention in Common Core.

Savoring his extralegal role as a self-anointed national school superintendent, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has asserted that he will hold school districts accountable for such students making prescribed, grade-level progress under Common Core, chirping about “high expectations” and “access to a robust curriculum” being the keys to high achievement.

A University of Pennsylvania expert on teaching special-needs children finds Common Core not to be liberating at all. “Though most Common Core goals are abstract and schematic, collectively they constitute a one-size-fits-all approach that, in practice, has severely straightjacketed America’s special-needs children” Katharine Beals wrote in The Atlantic. She gave detailed examples of how Common Core’s rigid prescriptions for students’ analysis of informational text are bound to frustrate language-impaired children reading below grade-level.

In telling NPR about her autistic son, Rebecca Ellis described the problem this way; “There’s always been a gap – academically, socially – between what he could do and other kids could do. When the standards changed, the gap grew into this canyon overnight.”

How much longer will this national nightmare continue before Americans reclaim individualized education?

Robert Holland

Chicago, Illinois