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Letter: Common Core State Standards are not ‘atrocity’

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After reading Rep. Brenda Heller’s letter to the editor in the March 4 issue of The Dickinson Press, I feel an obligation to refute two erroneous elements therein.

To begin, the Common Core State Standards are not an “atrocity.” By definition, an atrocity is “a very cruel or terrible act.” In fact, establishing high standards for North Dakota’s students is the very opposite of an atrocity.

As students meet these high standards, they will find themselves well prepared for success at work or higher education sooner than any preceding generation. The CCSS are rigorous and focus clearly on developing critical thinking skills, analysis and reading comprehension. These are skills that will serve our students well throughout their lives.

Second, the CCSS do not represent a “federal government takeover of our educational system.” The CCSS were developed at the behest of the National Governors’ Association and received direction from the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Democrat and Republican governors of the 45 states that have adopted the CCSS take their respective states’ interests seriously and presumably would not cede control of education to the federal government.

States voluntarily chose to adopt the CCSS and they can choose to withdraw from the CCSS at any time. The control is in the hands of the state officials and they will answer to their constituencies for their actions. In fact, Minnesota has adopted the CCSS for language arts but not for mathematics because they feel their state has a better math initiative.

Has the implementation of the CCSS been perfect? No. Are there some issues with the CCSS that still need to be fine-tuned to ensure that teachers and learners have the best possible opportunity to fulfill the promise of these rigorous standards? Certainly. But it is important to note that groups as diverse as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of Teachers support the CCSS. They do so because they understand that the CCSS represent the best chance we have to close the achievement gap and to make our students college and career ready.

I want to end on a note of agreement with Heller.

I, too, implore all North Dakotans to be attentive to this issue. Take the time to learn the facts about the Common Core State Standards and do not be swayed by ideological hyperbole, no matter the source.

Nick Archuleta,

President,

North Dakota United

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