Category Archives: Publications by SEPA residents

Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards

Diane Ravitch’s blog: A site to discuss better education for all, 2/26/13

I have thought long and hard about the Common Core standards.

I have decided that I cannot support them.

In this post, I will explain why.

I have long advocated for voluntary national standards, believing that it would be helpful to states and districts to have general guidelines about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school.

Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one. I envision standards not as a demand for compliance by teachers, but as an aspiration defining what states and districts are expected to do. They should serve as a promise that schools will provide all students the opportunity and resources to learn reading and mathematics, the sciences, the arts, history, literature, civics, geography, and physical education, taught by well-qualified teachers, in schools led by experienced and competent educators.

​For the past two years, I have steadfastly insisted that I was neither for nor against the Common Core standards. I was agnostic. I wanted to see how they worked in practice. I wanted to know, based on evidence, whether or not they improve education and whether they reduce or increase the achievement gaps among different racial and ethnic groups.

After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t wait five or ten years to find out whether test scores go up or down, whether or not schools improve, and whether the kids now far behind are worse off than they are today.

I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.

The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time….

continue reading at Diane Ravitch’s blog: A site to discuss better education for all

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Filed under Education and schools, Publications by SEPA residents

Torture kept no one safe

letter in the Inquirer, 5/27/09:

The remarks by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday were as shady as President Obama’s were candid (“Squaring off on closing Guantanamo,” Friday).

Consider, for instance, Cheney’s reference to the “willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top-secret program of enhanced interrogations.” Anyone who has read the Red Cross report and the recently released memos showing CIA interrogators in continual contact with Office of Legal Counsel attorneys can easily trace what went on at Abu Ghraib right back up the chain of command. The enhanced techniques were not invented at Abu Ghraib, but in Washington, while White House attorneys provided dubious legal cover.

It is time to end the myth that these practices kept Americans safe. It is time to call these “enhanced interrogation methods” by their real name: torture.

Barbara Quintiliano

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Filed under Publications by SEPA residents, Rights, Justice, Law

Specter is a phony moderate

letter in the Inquirer, 4/22/09

Arlen Specter is a moderate only in comparison to troglodytes like Pat Toomey and John Boehner. The scarlet “M” that Specter wears in Tony Auth’s cartoon on Friday does not stand for “moderate”; rather, Specter wears it as a symbol of his own ego, because the generation of Ronald Reagan (which Specter now represents) is the true “me” generation, swindling themselves and their children with the mistaken idea that Ponzi-magnified financial and political oligarchies have better priorities and motives than the collective wisdom of smaller competitors in sane and honest competition. I grew up with moderates. Moderates were my friends. Arlen Specter, you are no moderate.

Ben Burrows
Elkins Park

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Filed under Publications by SEPA residents, US Senate

How about a real Democrat?

letter in Daily Local News, 5/15/09:

It’s hard to believe that Sen. Arlen Specter will be given a free pass in the Senate primary to run for yet another term, this time as a Democrat.

Yes, he’s a chum of Joe Biden and Ed Rendell, but Sen. Specter has made a career of thwarting legislation dear to the hearts of loyal Pennsylvania Democrats. And in his announcement that he was switching parties, he admitted he couldn’t be counted on to vote with the Democratic leadership team just because he wanted to wear their uniform.

What would it take to enlist Congressman Joe Sestak to run as a real Democrat in the primary election? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a retired admiral with honest Democratic qualifications represent us in the Senate?

Let’s hope the newspaper editorial boards raise this as a possibility.

Ralph Mero
West Chester

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Filed under Publications by SEPA residents, US House PA-07, US Senate