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Why All Students Deserve an Education that Teaches Them to Think Critically
Collaborative for Student Success
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day serves as a reminder that, “We can – and must – do better to ensure that these students leave high school prepared for their futures.” High, comparable education standards “ask more of all students and ensure they are on a path to graduate from high school college- and career-ready.” By contrast, a Center for American Progress study finds states that have not embraced high standards continue to fall behind when it comes to at-need students. “High, consistent standards – when faithfully implemented – give students the tools they need to think critically and succeed in college, career, or whatever else they choose to pursue. And after all, isn’t that the purpose of education?”

Can Parents Help with Math Homework? YES
Common Core Watch
Parents can and should help their children with homework, and they should emphasize the message “‘We can figure this out if we keep at it’—not, ‘If you aren’t sure, just quit and wait for an authority figure to tell you what do to do,’” James Zimba writes. The piece adds that under Common Core, students must still “know their sums and products from memory and to be fluent with the standard algorithm for each of the four basic operations.” A recent Collaborative for Student Success blog explains Common Core State Standards emphasize multiple problem-solving strategies so students can “develop a full understanding of the concepts before they move on to more challenging levels.”

Are Common Core Math Standards Being Misinterpreted?
Washington Post
Kathy Liu Sun, an assistant professor at Santa Clara University, writes that Common Core State Standards encourage students “to come up with solutions on their own, and not be prescriptively told how to solve problems.” Often, however, teachers try to “fit the standards into an old style of teaching math.” Sun says parents and teachers should let students do the thinking, increase support for educators, and provide more open-ended math problems. In a recent analysis, Jim Cowen writes that parents should embrace changes to math instruction, because they help students “not just understand math, but learn to love it.”

Correcting the Record:

Inside James O’Keefe’s Common Core Exposé Misfire
Daily Caller

Conservative activist James O’Keefe hasn’t found a smoking gun in recent videos that feature employees of a textbook company alleging Common Core State Standards are “all about the money,” Blake Neff reports. “His videos haven’t exposed the rotten heart of Common Core, they’ve simply revealed the fact that textbook companies serve customers and try to make those customers happy.”

A statement from the Collaborative for Student Success goes further, noting the videos are offensive to teachers and reiterate the importance of local control of educational materials. Here is where O’Keefe gets it wrong:

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Despite Earlier Comments, Governor Stands Down on Bid to Replace Education Superintendent John White
New Orleans Advocate
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is putting on hold his pledge to replace State Superintendent John White, sources close to the situation say. On the campaign trail, Edwards said he had “no intention” of allowing White to continue in the role. But after a private post-election meeting between the two, any push to remove White is on hold for now, the article reports. “[Gov. Edwards] will continue to keep an open line of communication going forward regarding how best to address ongoing needs and improve the state’s educational system,” Gov. Edward’s office said in a statement.

Educators Preparing Districts for Latest Standardized Test
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Educators in Arkansas are preparing students for more changes to statewide testing. The state will begin using ACT Aspire exams for students in grades three through 10, marking the third test change in as many years. “If you are teaching and teaching well, your kids can face any test you can give them and fare well,” says Hope Allen, who oversees testing for the Arkansas Department of Education. “It’s really about what’s going on in that classroom.”

Despite Progress, African-Americans More Likely to Be Expelled, Less Likely to Excel
Modesto Bee
Data from Modesto City Schools show the number of suspensions and expulsions is down, but African-American students, especially boys, are more likely to face disciplinary measures than other ethnicities. In the 2011-12 school year, 45 students were expelled; last year, only four students were. Leaders attribute the gains in part to engaging, consistent education standards and progressive support programs. “Five years ago, the thought of having a kid get counseling when they start having trouble just wasn’t there,” says one administrator. “Now it’s one of the first things we do.”