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April 24, 2014

STOTSKY: The next step redux in education standards

Writing at National Review Online, Rick Hess and Mike McShane of the American Enterprise Institute make the complaint that critics of Common Core have not come up with the next steps to “repeal and replace” for states that want to restore academic integrity to their K-12 curriculum in English language arts and mathematics.

Hess and McShane should have asked me what I’ve done instead of presenting such a baseless complaint. In fact, I’m getting exhausted from all the “next steps” I’ve been doing.

First, two years ago I crafted an updated set of English language arts standards based on the first-rate set I helped develop in Massachusetts in 1997. This set of standards, copyright-free and cost-free, has been available for districts and states to use in place of Common Core’s inferior standards since May 2013. The document can be accessed at my old home page at the University of Arkansas and on the website of the Association for Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers (ALSCW).

In an introduction to the document, John Briggs, an English professor at the University of California, Riverside, and current ALSCW president, notes:

“The role of literature and the literary imagination in K-12 education is of particular concern to the ALSCW. The . . . carefully articulated and detailed set of English Language Arts standards prepared by Sandra Stotsky . . . will contribute to the national conversation by emphasizing the importance of literary study in the education of the young.”

Far from being so obscure that few know about this document, it was listed in the recently released Indiana standards document as one of the resources to which the standards-drafting committee referred. Nothing in my document was used, of course, but not for the reason Hess and McShane cook up.

That the standards-drafting and evaluation committees came up with an imitation of Common Core is not because Common Core was the default position for educators under a “tight time line.” It was because a warmed-over version of Common Core was the goal set for the committees established by Governor Michael Pence’s education policy director and the Indiana Department of Education staffer co-directing the project with her.

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