News You Can Use:

KPCC Southern California Public Radio, “How One School Fashions Geometry Lessons from Recyclables”: In teacher Ding-ay Tadena’s geometry class at Hawthorne High School, students use math problems to create outfits designed with recycled items like plastic cups and trash bags as part of a lesson to reinforce content. The visual and performing arts techniques, or VAPA, engage students in creative ways to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world scenarios. “It has put color into a boring abstract math,” Tadena says. Integrating subjects – like the arts – into math, and requiring greater collaboration is designed to help students who struggle with concepts on paper by providing hands-on and visual lessons. In Centinela Valley Union High School District, schools have been developing approaches like these since adopting the Common Core. One student says she appreciates the new rigor of the standards and the opportunities they provide. “I think, with the content that we have with the Common Core, it’s a step up.”

What It Means: The creative lesson plans at Hawthorne High School demonstrate the freedom the Common Core provides educators to structure learning to meet student needs. In addition to traditional problem-solving approaches, like memorization and standard algorithms, the Common Core introduces students to multiple techniques to develop better conceptual understanding. And by emphasizing more collaboration and cross-curriculum integration, the standards reinforce learning and help students apply lessons to real world situations. A Scholastic study last fall found more than two-thirds of teachers who worked closely with the Common Core reported an improvement in students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.

Washington Post, “Scott Walker’s Common Core Conundrum”: In response to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s op-ed in the Des Moines Register yesterday, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes that the Governor’s criticism of the Common Core as a misuse of federal funds is “confusing” since the standards do not affect “how and where the money is coming from.” “Here is the problem,” Rubin writes. “How can governors of states that have adopted Common Core simultaneously argue 1) it’s awful and 2) their record – with Common Core in place – is terrific? …As we have made clear, GOP candidates pander to misinformed voters when they paint Common Core as something that it is not…There may be good reasons why Common Core should not be used. But from the GOP contenders – including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who recently announced he’s going to dump Common Core – we have yet to hear one.”

What It Means: In an effort to placate a small but vocal sliver of the conservative base, several candidates have perpetuated misleading and often downright false information about the Common Core. As Karen Nussle wrote this week, these political calculations may backfire. This year more than a dozen legislatures – many in the most conservative states in the country – voted down bills to repeal the Common Core, and Republican voters have largely indicated the standards are not a disqualifying issue. Leaders who have reversed themselves on the Common Core will have to explain their decisions to voters, while those who are able to articulate the value of rigorous, comparable education standards and increased accountability may very well benefit from supporting the Common Core.

Associated Press, “Last Bill in Louisiana Common Core Compromise Wins Final Passage”: On Tuesday, Louisiana lawmakers approved the last piece of a three-bill Common Core compromise that will now move to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk for approval. A spokesperson said the Governor will likely sign the deal into law. The package will set up a review of the state’s Common Core Standards with public meetings and legislative oversight, and will give the next governor an up-or-down vote for any recommendations. It will also put limits on the use of standardized tests from consortia aligned with the Common Core. “The bills set up a good process to ensure education curriculum will be locally controlled going forward,” a spokesperson for Gov. Jindal said. The article notes the compromise doesn’t remove Common Core State Standards from classrooms, and development and review of the standards will remain with Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

What It Means: With the compromise deal, Louisiana joins many other states in rejecting efforts to repeal the Common Core. This year, more than a dozen legislatures have voted down bills that sought to replace the standards outright, and after two national elections all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt the Common Core still use it or a similar set of learning goals. Karen Nussle wrote recently that one reason the Common Core has had such staying power is that the public fundamentally supports high, comparable standards and increased accountability, and opponents who have tried to distort what the Common Core is have been faced with the facts.


Correcting the Record:

US News & World Report, “Shift the Education Power”: Robert Holland, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, writes that Washington lawmakers’ support for education reform efforts should give “everyday citizens…every reason to worry.” “Federally directed testing was a big step toward absolute control federal control of curricula, and now Common Core and intrusive assessments bid to seal the deal,” Holland says. “A Republican-led Congress ought to be looking for ways to return all decision-making about when and how and what subjects to test to local communities. This power is central to local control of education.

Where They Went Wrong: Holland suggests that Common Core and high-quality tests that support the standards usurp local control of education. In fact, states voluntarily adopted the Common Core and are free to choose which tests to use to measure student development. Objective analyses, including a PolitiFact examination this week, have repeatedly concluded that Common Core Standards are not a federal program and that “federal officials did not initiate the state standards for public schools or force them on states.” By setting rigorous learning goals and giving local educators control of how best to meet them, the Common Core ensures more students will graduate high school prepared for college or a career.


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Charleston Daily Mail, “Review of Common Core to Begin, Will Seek Online Comments”: The West Virginia Department of Education will begin a review of its Common Core-based standards later this month. Even though legislation requiring a review failed to pass both the House and Senate, State Superintendent Michael Martirano announced in March he would direct his staff to do so. “This is a substantive work that gets us moving forward for the future of our kids,” Martirano said. “I believe this is the most important work in our state right now.”

Politico’s Morning Education, “Common Core Backers Spend the Most in Iowa”: Picking up on the Sunshine Foundation review of ad buys in Iowa, the write-up notes the Collaborative for Student Success has “outpaced all other political spenders in Iowa so far this year.” It adds, “While most super PAC ads are yet to come, the Collaborative’s Iowa investment trounces that of super PACs supporting Common Core opponents Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry. The collaborative hasn’t favored a particular presidential candidate. Instead, the ads target conservative voters who’ve revolted against the Common Core.” Blair Mann, spokesperson for the Collaborative, noted, “We think it’s important — and far more effective — to be part of the conversation early, rather than trying to correct the record after the issue has been distorted and misrepresented.”

Newark Star-Ledger, “Christie to Unveil Education Proposal in Iowa Today”: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is expected to “unveil a proposal on education and host another ‘Tell It Like It Is’ town hall event” today in Iowa. Gov. Christie will speak at Iowa State University at 11 a.m. CT. Later in the day he will speak at the Polk County Republicans’ spring dinner in West Des Moines and conduct the town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids on Friday morning. The Governor’s speech on education comes shortly after his announcement to review and amend New Jersey’s Common Core-based standards.