Resident Asks Board of Ed to Reject Common Core

Chris Anderson talks about stimulating student innovation through 21st century learning. Credits: Bob Faszczewski
Architect Greg Somjen tells the Millburn board what physical plant adjustments need to be made to accommodate more flexible learning spaces. Credits: Bob Faszczewski

MILLBURN, NJ – At Monday’s Board of Education Meeting, frequent Common Core critic Douglas Cundey noted that two New Jersey Assembly bills seek to investigate the standards and their efficacy in advancing student progress.

He also said seven New Jersey boards of chosen freeholders have passed resolutions asking for delays in implementation of the standards, and read a resolution from the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders asking state education officials to rethink implementation of the standards and urging federal officials to oppose the standards.

Cundey added that Common Core, and the accompanying PAARC testing “threatens the entire kindergarten-to-12th-grade education system,” and the standards are something very few people in Millburn even know about.

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He said the Bergen County resolution said the standards will be too expensive, will result in having seventh-and-ninth-grade mathematics students performing two years behind their grade levels, and are opposed by the secretary of education in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The Bergen County resolution, he said, pointed out that New York State, which had a far greater commitment to Common Core than New Jersey, has found that the standards have resulted in a significant drop in test scores.

The resolution, according to Cundey, also said the standards were an attempt to nationalize education, would “dumb down” all students and were a threat to the United States Constitution.

One mother who spoke at Monday's meeting said, in a protest against PAARC testing, she would not allow her children to attend schools when PAARC testing is being piloted.

She also asked that the district provide to parents the budgetary costs associated with Common Core and PAARC testing.

On another topic, Chris Anderson, an adjunct professor at the College of New Jersey, and Greg Somjen of Parette Somjen, the district's school architects, gave a presentation of 21st century learning and how the district could meet the needs of the new theories of pedagogy.

Anderson noted 21st century learning theories emphasize collaboration, problem solving and the application of engineering techniques in open environments to challenge students to find their own solutions to problems.

Somjen said although many of the district's classrooms are not structured for the new learning environment many libraries and media centers can be converted to promote flexible spaces that promote the new pedagogy and stimulate student creativity and project management that is becoming the norm in modern business.

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