Commentary: Finding common sense in the Common Core debate

At the end of January I stood with my House Republican colleagues and called for public hearings on the Common Core Standards in the state legislature. This will finally allow parents, teachers, administrators and others with an interest to have their voices heard on these reforms.

We have asked the legislature’s Education Committee to temporarily pause implementing the funding for Common Core pending the outcome of research, and that these items be taken up at a public hearing. To date, the chairs of the Education Committee have declined to do so.

This is why I joined other House Republicans in invoking Joint Rule 11, which allows a public hearing to be forced if 51 members sign a petition requesting it. We asked the leaders of the Education Committee to hear the voices of teachers, parents and administrators, and they refused.

Now we are forcing them to listen to those they would rather turn away. At the time of writing, a date has yet to be set for this hearing.

I believe in local control of the process of educating our children. Common Core is a top-down system dictated from Washington, D.C. that filters down through bureaucratic channels.

It is being implemented under pains to avoid public input from those it will impact the most, and that should raise everyone’s eyebrows.

,The state Board of Education adopted what has come to be known as the Common Core standards at a board meeting on July 7, 2010. These standards are subject-based education standards designed to prepare students in grades K-12 for higher education, and for the workplace.

We are told that the central thinking behind Common Core is the imparting of real-world knowledge and skills to help students’ preparation for college and careers.

Common Core is meant to go hand-in-hand with Smarter Balanced standardized testing, which measures the growth of students in meeting the new standards. It is a computer-based mastery test that is scheduled to launch during the 2014-15 school year.

Connecticut adopted the Common Core standards only through the action of the state Board of Education, and without the consent of the state legislature.

This means a massive curriculum overhaul was put in place without the public hearings that would have allowed parents, teachers and other stakeholders to have their voices heard.

There may very well be a great deal of merit in the Common Core curriculum. There may be much that ought to be questioned.

The way we begin to examine such a tremendous reform, with so many different moving parts, is to hold public hearings where these issues can be discussed and examined.

There is significant expense attached to these reforms, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has yet to draft successful application for federal Race to the Top grant funds to offset these costs, which leaves the state financing early portions on its own.

The state has not had a very successful roll-out of Common Core to date. It will cost $14.65 million to implement over the next two years.

The state Department of Education announced, and then walked back, a plan to spend $1 million with a public relations firm to promote Common Core — an alarming presumption that you need to have your tax dollars spent on propaganda promoting this plan to you.

During this session of the legislature I will be working to ensure that parents and teachers get that opportunity to voice their concerns and thoughts to policy makers.

State Rep. Jason Perillo, a Republican, represents the 113th District that covers most of Shelton.