Common Core town hall slated

MARTINSBURG – Delegate Mike Folk, R-Berkeley, is in a unique position to comment on West Virginia’s version of Common Core standards – entitled Next Generation – since he’s an elected official and also has children in the Berkeley County school system.

Simply put, he’s not a fan – especially after having been unsuccessful in attempts to help his second-grader with math homework last year, a frustration that was shared by other family members (one a double major in math and biology, the other an engineer) who also couldn’t figure it out, Folk said, adding that he’s not surprised some states are withdrawing from participating in these new math standards.

“I am against the Common Core, the way it is being done currently, because they are trying to do higher-level reasoning at an age when young children just can’t do that yet. And I also object to the fact that state board of education members approved it a month before the standards were even finalized,” he said.

“I’ve also talked to a lot of teachers who have a problem with it, because it takes a lot of flexibility away from them in the classroom and they also realize one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to their students. Other parents have had similarly frustrating experiences, which is sad because they are the ones who want to be involved and help with their children’s education,” Folk said.

As result, he’s planning to attend a town hall forum Aug. 24 in Bridgeport that is being held on the eve of state legislators arriving there for their August interim meetings.

It’s being sponsored by West Virginians Against the Common Core and will feature former Harrison County Board of Education president Mike Queen as well as Sen. Donna Boley, who is proactively working with the citizen activists and in Charleston against the new standards.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor of education emerita, University of Arkansas, where she held the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality. She served as senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from 1999-2003, where she was in charge of developing or revising all the state’s K-12 standards, teacher licensure test and teacher and administrator licensure regulations.

Stotsky was also one of five members of the Common Core Validation Committee which would not sign off on the standards as being internationally benchmarked, rigorous or research based, according to information promoting the conference.

In an Aug. 11 email, Stotsky took issue with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s comments in The Journal regarding his commitment to educational reform and a goal of having all third-graders able to read at grade level.

“There are many things Governor Tomblin can do to make sure beginning reading is taught better in West Virginia schools than it has been. But Common Core has the wrong answers, and leads West Virginia backwards,” she wrote.