Teacher Voice

Teacher Voice Paramount in Shaping Common Core Rollout

We know a few things for sure about the Common Core State Standards. Some politicians are gunning for them. Many parents don’t understand them. Most teachers embrace them, if they’re given the time and training to use them in a meaningful way. That’s why we need to turn to teachers, first and foremost, to help us understand the promise and peril of this monumental change in education policy. That’s why it’s so crucial for state policymakers and district leaders to listen—really listen—to the voices of teachers. Because so much is riding on Common Core succeeding, and so much of that success rests on the shoulders of teachers. Let’s put the political pandering and tired punchlines to rest. Common Core is a reality in most of our nation’s schools, even if the standards end up renamed and repackaged in certain states. We know from national surveys—as well as the VIVA Idea Exchange in Arizona in 2012—that teachers don’t want to move backwards to a time when the bar was intentionally set low, when rote learning was prioritized over critical thinking skills. We also know that parents will turn to classroom teachers for guidance in understanding how to navigate this new world of learning with their children—to assuage fears, and to support them with homework tips. And to do that, teachers need to share their front-line perspective on what it will take to make these standards work in a diverse array of settings–in kindergarten classes and physics classes, in rural schools and schools with immigrant students, with first-year teachers and with seasoned pros. Don’t just take my word for it. Take it from these award-winning experts: Karen Vogelsang, Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year:
I am ill at the thought that these standards could be repealed. We have invested countless hours and millions of dollars up to this point in time. Let’s see this through. I truly believe if we do we will continue to see unprecedented growth for our students. They deserve it.
Jemelleh Coes, Georgia’s Teacher of the Year:
As a new way of teaching, the Common Core has certainly challenged teachers—both young and veteran—to rethink how we approach the materials students need to master. To be clear, Common Core does not mandate we teach a certain way. In fact, my colleagues and I were surprised to find that we had more freedom to construct lessons under the Core.
Melody Arabo, Michigan’s Teacher of the Year:
What I have realized through conversations with teachers and parents is that people are more frustrated with the resources we use to teach Common Core than they are with the standards themselves.…But is it fair to blame the standards because of weak materials? If you were trying to build a desk with the wrong tools, would you blame the instructions?

Add Your Voice

Teachers, add your voice! VIVA is seeking out educators to weigh in on Common Core and the rollout of these standards across almost the entire country. Make your voice count. Add Your Voice →
This post also appears on the blog of the VIVA Project, which seeks to dramatically increase classroom teachers’ participation in important policy decisions about public education.
Peter Cunningham
Peter Cunningham is the founder of Education Post and serves on its board. He served as Assistant Secretary for communications and outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration’s first term. Prior to that he worked with Arne Duncan when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Peter is affiliated with Whiteboard ...

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