Common Core Critics Blast Brand Names in NY Test Questions

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 01:58 PM

By Sharon Churcher

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Critics are raising concerns about why English tests administered this month to more than 1 million New York students contained questions that mention major advertising brand names and symbols.

The Associated Press reported that Nike, Barbie, iPod, Mug Root Beer, and Life Savers showed up on Common Core exams for third through eighth grades in the state this month.

"'Just Do It' has been a familiar Nike slogan for more than 25 years, but some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York’s Common Core standardized English tests," the AP reported.

New York state education officials and the test publisher insist the brand references were not paid product placements but just happened to be contained in passages selected for the tests.

Opponents of Common Core’s attempt to impose national standards on schools blogged angrily on Facebook and other sites, however.

"Another case of greed in the U.S.," one poster said.

Another noting that Microsoft founder Bill Gates has spoken out in favor of Common Core, said, "You have been had. Education is for sale to the highest bidder."

The test questions have not been made public, but teachers have complained that the brand names and their accompanying trademark symbols were confusing.

Critics questioned, however, why brand names would be mentioned: "It just seems so unnecessary," said Josh Golin, associate director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which monitors marketing directed at kids.

Parent Sam Pirozzolo, whose fifth-grader encountered the Nike question about risk-taking, felt the mention was completely unnecessary. "I’m sure they could have used a historical figure who took risks and invented things," Pirozzolo said.

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