News You Can Use:

CORElaborate, “Two Questions Every Teacher Should Answer about the CCSS”: What has been the biggest change to your work as a result of the Common Core, and, what’s the single biggest public or political misconception about the Common Core? Those two questions, and educators’ response to them, demonstrate “these new standards are a big deal, and most of the people who ‘hate’ them don’t really understand what they’re hating,” writes Tom White, a fourth-grade teacher in Washington state. “The biggest change I’ve seen is the level of collaboration,” White goes on to say. “And that’s a good thing. Three teachers working together can do a lot more – and do it better – than three teachers working alone.” The biggest misperception, he adds, is that “everything was fine before we adopted the Common Core.” “The time is long overdue for students across the country to have access to the same set of high quality standards.”

What It Means: Like White, educators across the country overwhelmingly attest that Common Core State Standards help to unlock students’ full potential by setting rigorous, consistent learning goals and creating greater collaboration across schools, districts and states. As Melissa Stugart, a former high school teacher and host of the “Ask Melissa” series, puts it, “Anecdotally, I hear from teachers every day who see success in their classrooms and know their students are learning better…[Common Core State Standards] allow teachers across the country to participate in a common professional dialogue and share which parts of their curricula have been successful in teaching the standards.”

Charleston Gazette-Mail, “Vast Majority of Online Comments Support W. Va.’s Common Core Standards”: During the public review period of West Virginia’s Common Core standards, state residents overwhelmingly supported the learning goals. More than 250,000 comments from more than 4,100 individuals were submitted through an Academic Spotlight website hosted by the State Department of Education. Ninety-five percent of the 72,300 comments agreed with the state’s math standards, and 97 percent agreed with the state’s English language arts standards. “While there was a vast amount of agreement, we see nearly 10,000 comments on how standards can be improved,” said Sarah Stewart, director of government relations for the State Department of Education. The results come after a survey last month found West Virginia county school board members are evenly divided on whether to keep the standards; Fifty-two percent of the 119 participants said the state should keep the standards while 48 percent think they should be replaced. The Associated Press reports that the State Board of Education will vote next month on proposed changes to the standards.

What It Means: The public input in West Virginia demonstrates the near unanimous support for rigorous education standards that fully prepare students for college and careers. Like individuals in West Virginia, recent polling suggests parents and the public nationwide strongly support high, consistent academic expectations, by any name. “Parents want their kids to be better educated, regardless of their economic status or political persuasion,” Karen Nussle wrote earlier this year. As a result, states have opted to further build on the framework laid by the Common Core, much like West Virginia authorities will have the opportunity to do next month.


Correcting the Record:

Fox News, “Common Core-Aligned Writing Lesson on Gun Debate Fuels Claims of Political Agenda”: A writing lesson developed by a northern California NPR affiliate and the National Writing Project that is reportedly aligned to Common Core State Standards subjects students to political ideology, critics say. The study guide called, “The Battle over Gun Control,” which looks at the school shooting in Sandy Hook, CT, states that “moderate gun control” measures were voted down “in part to the powerful political influence of gun rights groups.” “While Common Core itself is not technically a curriculum, it drives classroom lessons by imposing a standards, nationalized test,” the article reports. “This guide shows that the Common Core philosophy of education is coming to all schools,” says Alice Linahan, founder of the anti-Common Core group Voices Empower. “It’s a shift from teaching fact to teaching attitudes, belief and behavior…Does a child get a job because they can read well, write well and have competent math skills, or do they get the job for supporting gay marriage and gun control?”

Where They Went Wrong: The article conflates lesson plans and materials, which local teachers and administrators choose, with Common Core State Standards, which simply set learning goals for students at each grade level. Any issues with curriculum should be taken up with individual schools and school districts, where it is developed. And this isn’t the first time media outlets have blurred the distinction to stir concerns. Earlier this year, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett tackled a similar situation that claimed Common Core State Standards indoctrinated students with Islamic beliefs. “These distortions of the Common Core have taken a toll on the education reform movement towards more rigorous standards,” Bennett explains. “The Common Core leaves the designation, approval, and use of textbooks, worksheets and assignments to local control… Sensational, even if false, news stories attract far more attention than nuanced policy debates… These myths and lies spread throughout the media like wildfire, and opponents of the Common Core know they can fan the flames of opposition far more effectively with these sensational and scurrilous accusations rather than engaging in an honest, intellectual debate.”


On Our Reading List:

Education Week, “GOP Candidate Kasich Wants to Slim Down Federal Role in K-12”: Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Thursday he wants to “shrink the federal education bureaucracy.” Gov. Kasich’s position comes as part of the GOP leader’s economic strategy, which he rolled out during a trip through New Hampshire. “Washington isn’t the nation’s school principal and it sure isn’t its teacher,” Gov. Kasich said. “It’s time Washington stop micromanaging education. Education is a local issue to be decided by parents, our communities and our local educators.” He added, “Yes, we need high standards, but the federal government shouldn’t set them or control them.”

KOAT ABC 7 Albuquerque, “Some PARCC Test Scores to Be Released Friday”: Education officials in New Mexico announced they will release today some results from the state’s PARCC tests, which were administered for the first time this spring. Fewer students will likely earn top scores said State Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. “We’re setting a new baseline, a new starting point for what it means to be ready for success,” Skandera said. “Let’s get honest. When we’re honest about where we are, then we get honest about how to close these gaps.”

EdSource, “Free Online Content Helps Teachers Meet Common Core Demands”: Organizations like the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education are helping to provide teachers with lesson plans and other instructional materials aligned to Common Core State Standards. “We strongly believe that education should be a free and accessible human right,” says ISKME Founder Lisa Petrides. ISKME operates a digital archive that offers more than 100,000 free resources from 350 content providers. “This is an evolution in the way we teach,” says Tim Smith, a math teacher in Sacramento. “We have the ability to access relevant, exciting curriculum – for free – any time we need it.”