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Education Historian Ravitch Wants More Input From Teachers on Common Core


Diane Ravitch is a research professor at New York University and former U.S. assistant education secretary.Diane Ravitch is a research professor at New York University and former U.S. assistant education secretary.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ― One of the nation’s leading opponents of the education reform movement said Thursday that a public review process the governor has created for Tennessee’s Common Core standards can be effective if teachers’ ideas are taken seriously.

Education historian Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and former U.S. assistant education secretary, was in Nashville to speak at a conference of career and technical education professionals.

Her visit comes during the same week Tennessee lawmakers filed measures to do away with the state’s Common Core standards.

While she opposes the standards, Ravitch said there’s no harm in getting public input about them, as long as what teachers say is taken seriously because of their close relationship with students.

“I’d rather see the teachers review the standards, because I think the teachers know what kids can do,” said Ravitch, adding that teachers should be the ones to construct the standards.

Common Core is a set of English and math standards that spell out what students should know and when. The standards ― which have been adopted by most of the states ― are intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce.

Earlier this month, Haslam unveiled a website where Tennesseans can review and comment on the standards.

But Monday, two Republican state senators filed legislation to repeal the standards and set up a special commission that would recommend to the State Board of Education new ones to be used in the state’s K-12 public schools.

And just two days later, a state House representative proposed a resolution that reads in part: “The Tennessee General Assembly … should be the next such state to remove the Common Core standards from implementation.”

Last year, Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation to delay the testing component.

The standards were scrapped this year in Indiana and Oklahoma. Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri have signed legislation to reconsider them, even though they’re still being used in those states.

Like many critics, Ravitch said the standards are untested and put too much pressure on students. She cited Common Core test results in which children in early grades failed.

“They will make children feel like failures from the beginning,” she said. “Failure discourages kids, it doesn’t encourage them.”

However, there are others who view the standards as beneficial.

David Mansouri, executive vice president of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, a leading education reform group, said earlier this week that SCORE supports Tennessee’s current standards and the review process the governor has created to examine them.

“We support letting that process run its course before any effort is made to adjust standards in the state,” he said.

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