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Why everyone (almost) is wrong about Common Core

Education reform must start with social reform, Furman University Education Professor Paul Thomas told an audience of more than 100 parents, grandparents, and community members during a special lecture Wednesday at the Upcountry History Museum.

Thomas’s lecture, “Why Everyone (Almost) is Wrong about Common Core,” kicked off the High Noon series of eight consecutive lectures presented by Furman professors during the fall, which will cover topics including politics, business, history, and economics.

Common Core is a controversial national standards initiative in the U.S. that details what K-12 students should know, especially in the areas of math and English, in each grade in preparation for college and the workforce.

“The best argument for new standards is a market argument,” Thomas said, citing the profitability of educational initiatives for textbook companies and consultants.

“We’ve been saying public schools are a failure since the mid-1800s . . . Education reform must be built on policies that directly address the rising social inequity in the United States,” said Thomas, borrowing a quote from Martin Luther King.

“We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished,” King said.

Families need stable, full-time jobs with health care and retirement benefits, and children need access to high-quality food, not just fast food, Thomas said. In addition, schools should eliminate high-stakes testing and avoid academic tracking. Children should also be given the opportunity to learn from quality, experienced teachers most of the time, he said.

“There is no achievement gap in the United States,” Thomas said. “There is an equity gap.”

Taylors resident and grandparent of three Richard Jeffress said he came away from the lecture with a much better understanding of the history of Common Core.

“Not everyone is the same.” said Jeffress. “It’s going to make everyone common to the core.”

The Upcountry History Museum/Furman is located at 540 Buncombe Street in downtown Greenville’s Heritage Green area. All lectures are free and begin at noon on Wednesdays. A complete schedule of lectures is available on Furman’s website.

For more information, contact Furman’s Marketing and Public Relations office at 864-294-2185 or e-mail Marie Newman-Rogers at

Last updated September 24, 2014
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director