In Wake of Pushback, States Rewriting Common Core
In May, Missouri lawmakers approved a compromise to keep the Common Core in place for at least two more years but require more oversight and public input. And as Joe Robertson of the Kansas City Star reported, a total of eight committees comprised of lawmakers and parents were supposed to convene at the statehouse this week to begin the work of revising the standards.
But the process has been slowed down by a lack of state funding to pay for the logistics. One issue: getting each school district’s designated education experts to the meeting site in Jefferson City.
Several school districts have decided to shoulder the cost themselves rather than risk being excluded from the process. From The Star’s article:
The Kearney School District is sending one of its top reading teachers, Ida Cessna, because “it is an important-enough issue for schools,” Superintendent Bill Nicely said.
“We feel we can pay our own way to have someone who can communicate well and provide a better understanding,” he said. “She’s not going to be a fly on the wall. She’s going to speak her mind.”
Also in Missouri, a St. Louis resident filed a lawsuit against state officials challenging the legality of the Common Core. The suit alleges that participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which tests students on what they’ve learned through the new standards, constitutes “an illegal interstate compact not authorized by the U.S. Congress,” the News Tribune reported.
Missouri isn’t the only state rewriting its academic standards for schools. Similar work is taking place in North Carolina this week, as part of the state’s decision to rescind its participation in the Common Core. The appointed commission has a year to come up with new grade-level expectations.
From WRAL’s reporting:
… Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, warned the 11 commissioners on Monday that lawmakers don’t want “just a rehash” of Common Core.
“If we didn’t want something different, we wouldn’t need you all in this room today,” said Tillman, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “I want North Carolina to own its standards. I want North Carolina to own its curriculum. I want North Carolina to own its assessments.”
To be sure, the Common Core continues to be a political football for policymakers at the state level – take a look at the New York Times’ piece on the fight dividing Louisiana, for just one other example. It’s also expected to be a critical issue in the Connecticut gubernatorial race this fall. And Education Week called the Common Core a litmus test for the state superintendent race in Arizona.
But in the meantime, thousands of teachers at local schools in 42 states are deep into the daily work of using the new standards.
American RadioWorks’ Emily Hanford found teachers in Nevada who are embracing the Common Core standards, and finding them to be a liberating – rather than constraining – influence on their classroom instruction. It’s a thoroughly reported story, enriched with first-person perspectives of teachers who have gone through the implementation process. From Hanford’s piece:
Jodie Westmont, a special education teacher at an elementary school in Washoe County, was really anxious about what Common Core was going to mean for her students. But the more she went to Core Task Project meetings and tried Common Core lessons with her students, the more she became convinced that the new standards were going to be good for special ed kids too.
“My kids were not making progress the way we were doing things before,” says Westmont. “We were dumbing everything down for them and treating them like they couldn’t think. Having a reading disability does not mean you can’t think.”
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