Support for the Common Core State Standards is found across the country and from various sectors. Below are excerpts from a Q&A about the Common Core, an Op-Ed by the Governor of Delaware, a story of teachers working together to develop a local curriculum based on the standards, and a piece on how Massachusetts is transitioning from their already high standards to Common Core. Links to each full story are provided.
Separating fact from fiction about Common Core education standards
By Renee Schoof, The Kansas City Star
June 10, 2013
“Q: Whose idea was it?
“A: Not Washington’s, despite the insistence of the tea party and other critics. It bubbled up from the states, where the standards were developed by governors and state school officials. Discussions began in 2007, during the George W. Bush administration, before Barack Obama was even a candidate for president, at the annual meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers. The National Governors Association soon began to weigh in as well.”
“Both groups were concerned that states had different expectations for what high school graduates should know. The result is that a high number of students entering colleges and universities have to pay to take remedial math and English classes before they can take classes for college credit.
“The governors and estate education officials started seeking advice from education experts in 2009. Business leaders and higher education officials provided feedback. The federal government wasn’t involved.”
“Q: Critics claim that the Common Core would nationalize education and threaten state “sovereignty.” Is this true?
“A: The standards are goals, not mandates. Teachers at individual schools will continue to decide what to teach and how to help children meet the basic goals. Noting that critics claim that the Common Core is a device for the federal government to take control of K-12 education, Huckabee, in a recent letter to Oklahoma lawmakers, wrote: ‘Speaking from one conservative to another, let me assure you that this simply is not true. State and local districts will determine how they want to teach kids, what curriculum to use and which textbooks to use.’”
By Jack Markell, Washington Post
June 9, 2013
“Rather than representing a takeover by the federal government, Common Core shows why states have always led in the area of education policy. State leaders realized that we can best accomplish our goals by working together with common guidelines that allow us to raise the bar for our students and share resources without interference from federal mandates.
“Opponents of higher standards also argue that the Common Core will eliminate local control of a school’s curriculum. This, too, is simply not true. Previously, each state had set its own standards; now, the majority of states will have the same ones. Local school boards have had, and will continue to have, discretion in how to work with their schools and educators to teach those higher objectives - from the texts they use to the teaching techniques they employ. The difference is that the expectations for a high school junior in Delaware will be the same as in California.
“If the crusaders against Common Core don’t think this is important, they should speak with military families. Their stories - told to support groups and educators - illuminate the benefits of having expectations for students that don’t vary by Zip code and that prepare their children for a global economy. They talk about moving to a new state with better academic standards, and how their kids initially struggle to meet more challenging goals but ultimately flourish beyond the levels that their previous accomplishments would have suggested.”
By Jill Frye, The Mountain Press (TN)
June 9, 2013
“Jeremy Kerr, a kindergarten teacher at Catlettsburg Elementary, said he attended the program to find ways to improve his teaching while implementing the new common core skills in mathematics.
"’We're learning new games and hands-on activities, as well as how to make stations more focused on math,’ Kerr said. ‘If they're (students) having fun, they're learning.’
“Despite the challenge of adapting to the new standards, Younger said most teachers are optimistic about the change. ‘It's not easy,’ she said. ‘But the teachers have been engaged, interactive, and asking questions. The first session went 15 minutes over, and not one person had their stuff packed up.’
“Younger will travel to Nashville next week, along with five other teachers, for additional math training from the state. Those who attend this summer's state workshops will then hold after school training for other teachers in the fall.”
By Phyllis Goldstein, Telegram & Gazette (MA)
June 7, 2013
“The editorials by outside groups claim that the CCSS were produced in secrecy, nullify teacher creativity, lower rigor, and restrict local control. All of these claims are incorrect and based on skewed evidence.
“The CCSS, known correctly in our district as the 2011 Massachusetts Math and English Language Arts/Literacy Frameworks, are based on a multiyear collaborative and transparent process, are evidence-based, allow great teacher creativity, and, most importantly, will give all of our students the opportunity to become college and career ready.”
“Before the State Board of Education voted on the state’s frameworks, public comment was solicited from all stakeholders: teachers, parents, legislators, school committee members, and district administrators. In fact, Worcester held a public comment session at the Worcester Technical High School in 2010, where many teachers and parents were present to ask questions and voice their opinions. All suggestions were taken into consideration by the state Board of Education.
“The brouhaha currently stirred up by The Pioneer Institute rests on the false notion that the Common Core State Standards are equal to the Worcester Public Schools’ curriculum. This is certainly not the case.
“As soon as the frameworks were approved by the State Board of Education, Superintendent Melinda Boone supervised a transparent teacher-based curriculum renewal process, during which parents were invited to curriculum renewal meetings, presentations were made to after-school providers, the Worcester Educational Collaborative, the Worcester College Consortium, and meetings large and small. Detailed reports on curriculum development have been and continue to be provided to the Teaching and Learning Subcommittee of the Worcester School Committee.”
Achieve has developed materials to help states, districts, and others understand the organization and content of the standards and the content and evidence base used to support the standards. Visit www.achieve.org/achieving-common-core. If you find a news clip supportive of the Common Core, please send it to Chad Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org.