In the panel discussion at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, several teachers claimed that the Obama Administration’s Common Core education reforms benefitted their school districts and their individual schools. Nevertheless, their tales of success may leave parents grateful that they don’t have children who are students in those districts.
- D.C. Public Schools’ deputy chief of Literacy and Humanities Corrine Colgan admitted that the baseline standard for Common Core texts had not been completely developed after three years because “it takes a lot of time” to do so.
- Fatonia Shank, an Indiana elementary school teacher, said that Common Core allowed for flexibility. In her own words, she said, “There is a textbook, but we can skip around to whatever we need to” and “we’re trying to make it [the curriculum] better as we go along.”
- Cicely Woolyard’s experience as a middle school teacher in Tennessee involved teacher-training by government officials, called “Core Coaches,” who trained teachers during the spring in specific school subjects like English or math. She lauded the “really tough, high-level” Common Core curriculum and accompanying tests in her school district. But, she said she disagreed with the idea that poor students were left behind by Common Core, even though previous speakers had hinted at such results.
- Suzanne Culbreth, a high school teacher in Alabama, praised Common Core and its curriculum. Common Core allowed both teachers and students to “discover” the curriculum together in the classroom, she said. “They won’t remember the formula, but they’ll remember the idea and the process” of computing arithmetic and other mathematical processes. She said, “Children in the state are handling [Common Core] better than the grown-ups.” Culbreth highlighted her district’s public relations outreach, both the “Standard of the Week” (which promoted a Common Core standard and put positive spin on it) and GRIT, or Graduation Ready Impact Tomorrow. GRIT was an outreach program that published a series of pro-Common Core op-eds and examined children’s performances under the curriculum. Culbreth said one first-grade teacher used vegetables in a math lesson. Instead of outlining addition, this teacher had students learn for themselves how to count. This teacher admitted to Culbreth that, on one typical question, “one is getting lower, one is getting higher, but you get back to seven (which was the right answer from the start).” She asserted that students and teachers focused on the “how” and not the “why” of math. Now, according to Culbreth, Common Core explored the “why” on a deeper level that benefitted the students.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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