Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

December 2, 2013

CONFER: Common Core: Welcome to more of the same

Niagara Gazette — Editor’s note: This is the second in an eight-part series about Common Core.

When I was an elementary school student in the 1980s, the anxiety and urgency that teachers and administrators had for the California Achievement Tests was palpable. Even as a child I could sense that the exams were make-or-break not just for the students but also for the school district’s workforce. The same observations held true a few years later when my classmates and I were being prepared for New York State Regents examinations.

Looking back on those experiences, it’s obvious that the tests had a deleterious effect on educators and students alike.

Teachers and schools were being graded as much as their pupils were on the tests, so they were being forced, either directly or indirectly, to teach to the test, rather than to the mastery of the subject matter. In order to conform, creative, engaging and effective teachers saw their potential stifled and, in turn, had to dictate rote material and administer an endless series of practice exams. It wasn’t the career they wanted or expected.

It’s not coincidental that as standardized testing has becoming more commonplace, even pervasive, at all grade levels and in all states since the advent of the U.S. Department of Education in 1980, the outcomes have suffered.

America, once one of the world’s leaders in student performance, now sports only a middling showing. According to the Program for International Student Assessment, of 65 countries featured in its study, we rank 23rd in science and 31st in math. It’s no wonder that most high school graduates are ill-prepared for the rigors of higher education, let alone employment.

It’s obvious that the American educational system is in crisis. It’s in need of a significant transformation, one with both immediate and long-term positive results. Status quo will only cause our country’s brilliance to be diminished in the coming decades as more-learned people of other lands begin to dominate in our ever-shrinking world.

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Bob Confer
  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Don't go soft on teenage criminals New York is one of two states â€" North Carolina being the other â€" that automatically prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in misdemeanor and felony cases. Other states do so only on a conditional basis at the whim of the presiding judge.

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  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug 040214 CONFER: Tax refunds are no reason to be happy A strange thing tends to happen this time of year: taxpayers who should be damning the government end up praising it. These brainwashed souls, numbering in the millions, feel rewarded by what appears to be government benevolence in the form of a tax refund, failing to realize that they are getting back only a little of the money that was rightfully theirs to begin with.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Russia on the right side of Crimea issue I don't like Russia. Never have. Probably never will.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: State's foot-dragging aggravates our energy woes I don't have to tell you that it's been a miserable winter in the northeast. We've been battered by an array of winter storms, from Polar Vortices to blizzards, and a seemingly endless barrage of below-average temperatures.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer, Bob Mug CONFER: Veterans tax exemptions making school boards uneasy School boards eyeing the new, optional veterans tax exemption in New York State face perilous choices: Who do you please? Who do you offend? Veterans or the majority of taxpayers?

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer Mug [Duplicate] CONFER: The importance of Boy Scouts in America What do Gerald Ford, Neil Armstrong, and William DeVries have in common?

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • • Confer, Bob mug CONFER: Move New York's primaries to June In 2009, the federal government passed the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which mandated that the states have federal absentee ballots in the hands of overseas military personnel at least 45 days before an election, to ensure that their completed ballots could be received by local boards of elections in a timely fashion.

    February 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer Mug CONFER: New York state could soon tax the scouts These are interesting times in New York, as we have a governor and a state legislature touting various reform packages that are expected to drop some tax rates after years of steady tax growth. It comes at a time when those same parties are testing the waters for even more public services such as universal pre-kindergarten.

    February 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer Mug CONFER: State bill would mandate parenting classes S142-2013, under review by the state Senate education committee now, would require parents of elementary school age children to attend parent support programs and workshops, including one concerning abuse in its various forms. If they didn't, their kids wouldn't be allowed to enter seventh grade.

    January 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Confer Mug CONFER: Opening the gates to Common Core For many, Bill Gates â€" he of the $67 billion net worth â€" is looked at as a hero for American education. Through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has invested millions in the development and introduction of the Common Core standards, the latest and allegedly greatest remodeling of teaching as we knew it.

    January 20, 2014 1 Photo

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