District-Union Collaboration on Common Core Curriculum Writing

When you look past the headlines and tune out the rhetoric, you can find encouraging work being done, collaboratively, on implementing the Common Core. Take the Marquardt School District in suburban Chicago, for example. The Center for American Progress (CAP) has highlighted a district-union collaboration there that drove a completely teacher-led writing of the curriculum that will be used in their classrooms. It’s a two-year partnership in the Marquardt district that was developed to tap into teacher insight and expertise and to build teacher buy-in and understanding of the new standards:
Over the two year process, expert, novice and even skeptical teachers—each offering a different yet important perspective—became part of teacher-led committees designed to break down the standards, draft curriculum, and create and gather materials. Through these processes, teachers who were at one time skeptical, frustrated, and perhaps fearful have seen students become more engaged in the curriculum and, in turn, have themselves become more engaged in their profession. At Marquardt, many decisions that directly impact students are now left up to teachers—those closest to the students. Kathleen Cirese, a 7th-grade English teacher, is one teacher who has experienced the transformative impacts of teacher led work in her classroom. “The district has put a lot of trust in us. They value my thoughts and my expertise. By being a part of the curriculum writing process from the beginning, I have been able to understand how to support my students better than before. We are the ones on the ground and who know our student populations best. Knowing our kids and our curriculum has had a positive impact on my practice and my student’s growth.”
Even more encouraging is the fact that, according to this Center for Education Progress report cited in the CAP blog, this type of teacher-led curriculum development is happening in more than two-thirds of school districts. CAP’s Andrew Amore writes:
While political pundits and politicians continue to give lip service to "teacher voice," many districts and unions are working together to create new systems where teachers can take on leadership roles, be a part of decision making, and take ownership over their practice.
Michael Vaughn
Michael Vaughn was the founding Communications Director of Education Post. Prior to that, Mike worked for 18 years in the communications offices of two urban school districts. He served in a variety of communications roles for the Chicago Public Schools starting in 1996, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of CPS, and eventually served as the district's Communications Director until ...

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