Commotion Continues to Surround the Common Core [The Day]

August 7, 2014

By Jaki Lauper | Shore Publishing

Common Core standards, a federally promoted education initiative, are now entering its first year as the functional standard. While schools have been preparing for several years, the issue continues to create a commotion in Connecticut.

“As a district, we’ve been preparing for the Common Core since at least 2011, but we’re still learning how best to work it into our teaching practices in classrooms,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert D. Cronin. “I think the standards are higher than we’ve experienced in the past so expectations on students are now higher.”

Governor Dannel P. Malloy recently released recommendations from his Common Core Task Force. One of the primary recommendations included, “Providing the necessary resources to support effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards across all state districts and schools. Resources defined in this recommendation are money, time, and technical support.”

Malloy announced that he would include additional funding for implementation of Common Core. He said that the state education department will allot $2 million from its existing budget for professional development for language arts and math instruction, and an additional $10 million to the $24 million already allocated for school technology upgrades to support transition to the Common Core.

Malloy said the teachers he has spoken to support the standards because they believe their students would be more prepared for college and careers.

State Senator Len Fasano has had a different experience.

“The Common Core guidelines were adopted by the state Board of Education in July of 2010. For the last four years, school leaders, teachers, and parents have been vocal in their displeasure with the haphazard and disorganized roll out of the guidelines, and the curriculum that must adhere to the guidelines,” Fasano said.

“This report, this initiative, and the funding it promises come two years too late. In his initiative, the governor is essentially asking a department, whose commissioner lacks necessary teaching experience, to clean up the Common Core mess,” Fasano continued.

Fasano told the Courier that “97 percent of the teachers don’t like it, and if you don’t have buy-in at the level that’s doing it, then it’s doomed for failure. The Common Core was written by a select group of people whose interest I don’t know. It hasn’t been vetted into the teacher community, and we rushed into it. The General Assembly had no vote, no part in the development or implementation of it, which has given us considerable angst.”

Moving forward, Fasano said, “I think we need to put a moratorium on it, we need to bring it into the legislature; have some public hearings on it. We need to tune it up and get some teacher input on it, and then roll it back out not just throw money at it like Malloy has done.”

A teacher survey conducted in May that included both the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Connecticut found that 82 percent were concerned about time available to “adequately learn, develop, and implement Common Core standards.”

A new Rasmussen Reports national survey finds that 49 percent of American adults favor requiring all schools nationwide to meet the same Common Core education standards, 28 percent are opposed, while nearly as many (23 percent) are not sure.

Currently 35 states have had some form of legislation raised against the standards themselves or the aligned testing.