Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Maryland's College and Career Ready Standards - Common Core

On a rainy Tuesday night in late September, the Calvert County League of Women Voters sponsored a forum on the Common Core Standards, which you may know are included in Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards.  Thanks to the LoWV for sponsoring such an effort.

The information was presented by a panel sharing perspectives on the standards.  Panel members represented students, teachers, parents and administration.  The mic was opened to the audience members who asked some good questions.

I encourage folks who have questions or concerns to first familiarize themselves with the standards as written.  They are internationally bench marked and challenging.  They are not curriculum.  We decide the curriculum locally around the broader standards.    See them directly at:

Sometimes I fear that those who oppose the standards wouldn’t know one if it bit them on the bottom.  Opponents seem to be upset about where they come from and who is behind them.  In fact, one questioner at the forum implied that Saudi Arabia was behind Common Core.  That was a new one to me.  Other opponents generally blame President Obama, the Democrats or Washington in general.  

The Common Core Standards were developed under the leadership of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (not the U.S. Department of Education).  An interesting little side note: the new head of the College Board, David Coleman, responsible for SAT college placement exam and Advanced Placement programs, is viewed by some as the architect of the Common Core.

Some who oppose the common core standards, do so because they see them as too much federal intrusion into local control.   That ship sailed with the passage in 2001 of federal, bi-partisan legislation known as No Child Left Behind.  The goal, as touted when President Bush signed it in January 2002, was “to advance American competitiveness and close the achievement gap for poor and minority students.”  

Under the threat of lost federal dollars, each state began to dance to the tune played by the NCLB fiddler.  Every new initiative from the state level was aimed at compliance with NCLB.

Then along came Race to the Top in 2009.  When the states lined up for the hundreds of millions of dollars available through RTTT, they agreed to implement Common Core Standards.  

It’s hard to read the standards and come up with reasons to oppose any one of them.  They represent an effort to raise the bar.  They require a greater depth of understanding and practice that shows application of skills and knowledge - more writing, more critical thinking, more problem solving, more effective communication.  I welcome anyone who, after reviewing them, wants to discuss their merits.  I’d be glad to meet and chat. 

What makes the biggest difference in a child’s future is not the broad statements of standards, but the relationship between student and the teacher.  Each child who finds at least one teacher who cares and pushes and supports will be successful.


  1. Because I have a strong desire to continue my education, I will refrain from editorializing. Sandra Stotsky occupies a Chair at the University of Arkansas and served as commissioner of the Mass. Department of Education,where she developed the standards for K-12 students in the state, as well as teacher certification. In her book the Stealh Curriculum, Ms. Stotsky states:"Most of these materials have been prepared and/or funded by Islamic sources here and abroad, and are distributed or sold directly to schools or individual teachers, thereby by passing public scrutiny.” Is she 'misinformed?' Superindtent Curry? Edward C. Davenport

  2. Sorry Ed. You are misinformed. Stealth Curriculum was written in 2004, long before common core standards were contemplated. The reference she makes is to the teaching of Islamic history in schools and the source of information at that time. Interestingly, Chester Finn wrote the preface to her book as President of the Fordham Foundation. He is now a member of the Maryland State Board of Education which requires that we teach the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards.

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Superintendent Curry.
    Miss Stotsky was referring to Title VI of the Higher education Act assignments. Apologies are offered for not making that distinction.
    See my letter bearing on this topic in Freedom Outpost or this letter in News Press.com. Title Vi, as you know, has been in place since 1965, but under the current administration there appears to be no oversight or accountability.

  4. During the 1980s a Washington Post columnist dubbed Ronald Reagan the “Antidotal President.”
    Mr. Reagan was good at finding what one suspects was the rare exception in advance of a televised speech to make his case – a “Welfare Queen” with a stable of luxury cars living high at taxpayer expense, for example.
    Not only has Common Core failed at its objective of closing the achievement gap separating the high-performing suburban schools from the troubled inner city schools where less than half of students graduate, it seems to have created an army of Ronald Reagan imitators.
    The web is filled with stories about students in states with Smarter Balanced Assessment or Partnership for Collage and Career Readiness being challenged to think critically for the first time. Reagan’s Welfare Queen now has a counterpart in the minority student on the fast track to success with a Fortune 500 company.
    It isn’t hard to find the rare exception.
    Since the student success stories are funded by the Fordham Institute, Gates, Sorros and Pearson, one never hears of the failures.
    Kids in the suburbs have always had advantages over their inner city peers, including academic and parental support.
    In Baltimore City, an hour and 37 minutes away, only a gut-wrenching 12% of students met proficiency levels.
    What kind of future can the remaining 88% expect when PARCC becomes a requirement for graduation and it is easier to become a licensed marijuana dealer than earn a diploma?

  5. It isn't everyday that the U.S. house of Representatives passes a bill allowing states to withdraw from something that is voluntary and state-led, is it? Former commissioner Linda Kelley liked this story. since it dovetails-in with the topic of schools, I am attaching a link.

  6. Dr. Curry:
    In the spirt of reforming our educational system, I would like to propose the creation of an independent advocate for special needs students. It should be apparent that the state department of education cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of these students, as evidenced by the PARCC debacle several years ago, in which a large number of disabled students (66%) were excluded from testing. I also would like to see rigorous oversight of lessons originating in the Middle East under Title VI of the Higher Education Act, as well a citizens’ review panel to monitor these lessons.
    Happy New Year.

    Edward C. Davenport, Drum Point

  7. Dr. Curry:

    I did not see any mention of what has become something of a rite-of-passage for the Calvert Recorder - the Adult Education ceremony.

    Typically, the ceremony is held in close proximity to National Education week.


    Edward C. Davenport

  8. Ed: Your comments and questions are drifting away from the content of this particular blog. Feel free to send me an email at curryd@calvertcounty.education .