FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2014
LEXINGTON, KY—"We've already done KERA. Why are we doing it again?" asked a spokesman for The Family Foundation after last night's comments by Gov. Beshear on the Common Core initiative. Martin Cothran called Kentucky's Common Core initiative a "warmed over version of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 (KERA)," which the group pointed to as a colossal failure.
"It's ironic that the very year we were all supposed to get out our party hats and celebrate the success of the 1990 reforms in Kentucky is the year we are talking about all the problems we have to solve in our schools."
Cothran, spokesman for the group and a professional educator himself, cited KERA's goal of all schools being "proficient" by 2014. "This year was the year our schools were supposed to have been cured of their education ills under the 1990 reforms. Instead, we have to listen to the same failed rhetoric we had to endure 25 years ago."
"Kentucky's version of the Common Core initiative is a rehash of old education ideas that were trotted out in the 1990s and have been completely discredited. Listening to the Governor's comments last night on Kentucky's supposedly 'new' education efforts made it sound like the Governor was reading the KERA playbook of 1990."
Cothran pointed specifically to the segment in the Governor's speech when he pitted basic content knowledge against thinking skills: "Core Content [sic] plays down rote memorization," said Beshear, "and instead gives students the skills that today's workplace demands: creating and critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, and communication."
"This is almost word for word what people like former State Education Commissioners Thomas Boysen and Bill Cody, State Sen. Ed Ford and other KERA advocates were telling us we were doing in 1990. It didn't work then and it won't work now.”
Cothran pointed to the false dichotomy education reformers are always invoking between memorization and content knowledge on the one hand and thinking skills on the other. "To say we're not going to memorize anymore and teach thinking skills instead is like Coach Calapari saying, 'My team is going to play down the fundamentals and instead give players what today's NBA needs: three point shots, crossover and spin dribbles, behind the back passes, and change of pace fakes'."
"It’s simply ludicrous to say that there is something wrong with memorization and that it detracts from thinking skills and creativity. The Governor's comments are a bad sign for education prospects in this state."