News You Can Use:

Washington Post, “Common Core Opponents Face Hurdles in Repeal Efforts”: Critics seeking to overturn CCSS have “run into roadblocks in states across the country, largely erected by fellow Republicans who support” the Standards. Legislatures in Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota – all Republican controlled – have voted down repeal bills in the past two weeks, and “the outlook for similar repeal measures in states like Mississippi, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Montana are grim as well.” Only one bill to take steps towards ending CCSS, in New Hampshire, has actually passed a state legislative chamber, the article reports, and faces a likely veto from the governor if it continues further.

What It Means: After two national elections, all but one of the 45 states to initially adopt CCSS continue to use the Standards or some nearly identical version of them. As the Collaborative’s Karen Nussle wrote last fall, the Standards have demonstrated remarkable political resilience because, fundamentally, the public supports higher education standards and increased accountability that prepare students to be successful after high school

Des Moines Register, “Iowa Poll: Common Core Not So Radioactive for Iowans”: Although CCSS have become a rallying call for the poles of the political spectrum, “they’re seen as a good thing by the majority of Iowa adults, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.” About 56% of respondents expressed a positive view of the Standards, compared to about 29% that had a negative perception of them. Fifty-seven percent of Independent voters favored CCSS, and about half of Republican voters and Evangelical voters. “Common Core is sort of the basic knowledge that we should as a nation share,” said David Tietz, a retired Iowa principal. “It doesn’t mean everything is going to be lockstep. Schools still have a great deal of latitude to go above and beyond.”

What It Means: The Des Moines Register poll adds to the evidence refuting opponents’ claims support for CCSS will be a litmus test for conservative political candidates. A NBC/Marist poll this month found 57% of likely Republican voters do not regard CCSS a disqualifying issue. “In fact, it might even be a positive for Republican candidates vying to compete in the Iowa caucuses,” Hot Air reported.

Arizona Daily Star, “Republican Makes Case for Common Core”: James Kelley, an Arizona district vice chair of the Republican Party, says like professional requirements, CCSS build on best practices and provide flexibility for change. “Common standards don’t direct the curriculum or the teaching method,” Kelley writes. “The mobility of the American family created a need for common competency and assessment. That has only increased.” Kelley notes many myths about the Standards have been perpetuated by opponents, but the “rhetoric consists of fabrications not based on the facts.” He adds bills like HB 2190 would walk the state backwards, making collaboration impossible by prohibiting “a tool simply because you don’t know how to use it.”

What It Means: As Kelley points out, many of the arguments against CCSS have been built on faulty information meant to fan concerns among parents. CCSS set clear, concise learning goals and give teachers the flexibility to meet them as they see best, and to address student learning needs as necessary. A Scholastic study finds more than eight in 10 teachers continue to support implementation of the Standards, and more than two-thirds report an improvement in students ability to use critical thinking and reasoning skills.

Asbury Park Press, “Don’t Be Fooled by the Noise: PARCC Benefits Kids”: New Jersey state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos writes for most college-bound students poor preparation leads to remediation “that drains their time and money.” About 70% of community college students need remedial coursework, according to one New Jersey study, and New Jersey’s private colleges report remedial costs exceeded $21 million. “Similarly, too many high school graduates who enter the workforce lack the necessary skills and knowledge to fill thousands of high-quality jobs,” Sen. Kyrillos notes. By providing parents and teachers an accurate measure of which concepts students have mastered and which they are struggling with, and by allowing them to compare results across states and districts, PARCC “insures parents and taxpayers the best possible outcomes for our children.” Kyrillos points out PARCC replaces two other state tests, and “opting out or any other movement against PARCC risks leaving students behind their peers and unprepared to lead.”

What It Means: Student assessments are an important tool to ensure high standards achieve their purpose and to give parents and teachers an honest measure of their child’s development. CCSS-aligned exams like PARCC provide more immediate and constructive feedback about student progress, ultimately reducing the need for additional testing. And because CCSS-aligned tests require students to demonstrate their understanding, the mitigate incentives to “teach to the test.”

Louisville Business Journal, “Kentucky Chamber CEO on Common Core: ‘We’ve Got to Bridge that Skill Gap’”: More rigorous expectations under CCSS have made learning and testing clearer and easier to interpret for both students and teachers, says David Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Adkisson added the business community continues to support the Standards as a pragmatic way to help ensure students are prepared for college and careers. “There are too many Kentuckians without jobs,” Adkisson said. “There are also too many jobs without Kentuckians. And we’ve got to bridge that skill gap.” He went on to say the issue has been politicized, and much of the criticisms against the Standards has been built on faulty information that ignores the substance of the changes.

What It Means: In Kentucky, one of the earliest states to fully align teaching to the Standards, student proficiency scores and college-readiness rates have steadily increased over the past three years. By setting high, clear learning goals, CCSS help to ensure all students are held to expectations that prepare them with the skills and knowledge to competently step into college-level work or a career.

NBC 8 Arkansas, “School Offers to Teach Parents Common Core through Special Program”: Piggott Elementary School in Arkansas is offering a program to help familiarize parents with changes in math instruction under CCSS. The program invites parents to sit in on lessons and participate in classroom activities. “I think it’s important to be involved in your child’s education to see what they are learning, and what they are doing in the classroom every day,” one parent said. “It’s a different way of teaching but we want students to understand because we have to build,” said Leean Mann, the school’s principal. “A good parent and a good teacher knows this too, you have to build on what the students already know.”

What It Means: In states across the country schools are hosting events like those at Piggott Elementary to help introduce parents to instructional changes under CCSS. In addition to traditional learning techniques, the Standards encourage students to use a variety of problem-solving methods in order to develop stronger building blocks to help them succeed at higher level material. More than two-thirds of teachers who have worked closely with CCSS report an improvement in their students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities.



Correcting the Record:

Politico, “Unable to Repeal Common Core, Foes Try Sabotage”: Following several defeats in Republican-controlled state legislatures (see above), opponents of CCSS are turning to “a new tactic: sabotaging, in incremental steps, the academic guidelines and the new Common Core exams rolling out this spring.” Lawmakers in several states are drafting legislation to curb state funding for textbooks and CCSS-aligned assessments and resources. Common Core foes say the array of tactical maneuvers they’ve introduced in statehouses shows the movement is maturing and digging in for a long fight, the article reports. “I feel confident if we don’t get it done this year, then within the next three years we’ll get it done,” said one Washington lawmaker. Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli disagrees. “The big story is how resilient this thing has been in the face of a huge national backlash.”

Where They Went Wrong: Despite nearly two years of target campaigns against the Standards and two national elections, states continue to move forward with implementation of CCSS. By working to subvert the Standards’ success through targeting student assessments and school funding, opponents are putting students at a disadvantage. By pursuing a “long fight” opponents are ensuring students and educators will continue to face uncertainty in the classroom.


On Our Reading List:

Idaho Ed News, “Otter Reaffirms Support for Common Core”: In a briefing with media on Wednesday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said his state will continue to support CCSS and may have turned the corner in debate over the Standards. “We’ve overcome most of the reistance,” Gov. Otter said. “We’re going to continue to resist any effort to change it.” The Collaborative’s Karen Nussle added that there is concern for some education issues, like the magnitude of student testing, but those shouldn’t be attributed to CCSS. “The problem is, Common Core gets blamed for everything under the sun,” Nussle said. “It’s pretty tough to have high standards that don’t look like Common Core. It’s one thing to be against the words. It’s another thing to say what you’d be for.”

CNN, “Christie Answers Questions after Rocky Month”: In response to questions about CCSS-aligned tests in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie didn’t mention Common Core by name but defended implementation efforts. “Let’s everybody take a deep breath,” Gov. Christie said. “I am someone who believes that testing to determine where people are is important. And I believe in high standards for our students and our schools.”

PBS Newshour, “White House Threatens Veto of GOP Bill to Fix No Child Left Behind”: The White House threatened to veto a Republican bill to revamp NCLB, calling it a “significant step backwards.” The White House said the measure “abdicates the historic federal role in elementary and secondary education of ensuring the educational progress of all of America’s students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, and students of color.” A Congressional vote is expected Friday, the article reports.

Metro News (WV), “Common Core Repeal Bill Moving in House of Delegates”: The West Virginia House of Delegates is considering a CCSS-repeal bill this week. The proposed bill is based on what lawmakers have called an “inappropriate usurpation of state sovereignty over public education.” State superintendent Michael Martirano said he has serious concerns with the proposal. “You don’t remove standards and change standards every other year,” he said. “That’s something we want to stay the course on.”, “Nutley Letter: Delusional”: Contrary to claims CCSS are “somehow completely changing the school day” or that “the federal government is more involved in developing and delivering the curriculum,” Mark Santeramo says the Standards ensure local school boards have control over what is taught. “This fallacy that the government and Common Core are destroying our children’s ability to learn and be successful is quite comical, at best.” “The Common Core sets up standards so that there is little overlap; what you learn in fourth-grade prepares you for fifth, and fifth prepares you for sixth, and so on,” Santeramo writes. “The Common Core does not tell you how to teach.” He adds that opting students out of CCSS-aligned tests undermines school accountability efforts and sets back systems for measuring student progress.

Education News, “Jindal, White Continue Louisiana Battle over Common Core”: A set of proposals issued this week by Louisiana Education Superintendent John White, if approved by the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, could change the Common Core standards and possibly do away with the common test White has supported, the article reports. Common Core has been the cause of legal battles between White and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal since the governor reversed his support of the standards in June of last year, shortly after the standards were put in place.