Common Core 101

I got schooled in Common Core.

I felt a little behind the eight ball.  My kids are young and not in school yet, but with my oldest approaching preschool in the near future, I felt like it was time to educate myself about what everyone has been talking about.  I have to admit most of the headlines, facebook posts or tweets have been pretty critical, but for me, didn't get to the root of why "everyone" is so upset. I needed to rewind and gather up some basic information to see what's going on here!

The Bright Spot in Vernon offers Parent Talk classes once a month.  Director Dawne Morrison features a "topic relevant to the lives of young children and their parents."  Dawne not only works with children now, she's a former early childhood education teacher well versed in the new standards.  Dawne says the Common Core State Standards are for K-12 and "are not federally mandated but states choose to adopt them.  Connecticut is now 1 of 44 states that have done that." The standards were developed in 2009 and implemented in 2012. Simply put, Dawne said the standards are "what children should know by certain points."  Public schools in Connecticut must adopt the new standards.  Dawne says the standards are designed to make kids "college and career ready" and are described as "rigorous."  Dawne says she doesn't have a problem with that, but rather they're "not going to work for every child" since the new standards include a lot of non-fiction reading, essays, public speaking and technology.  (Because of that technology component, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation funded a good chunk of Common Core.) The panel, however, didn't include guidelines for special needs students.  Special needs children however will continue to have IEP's, or individual education plans.  Dawne says that's why it's so important for parents to get involved to find out "what these standards will look like for my child."

Other concerns she says come from teachers, who she found "felt there wasn't enough public discourse of development of standards."  Dawne says of the 27 people on the national panel who set up these standards, three were teachers.   Teachers she's talked with said the standards have "come to teachers in a "fast and furious" method so "they have to change the way they do things" without the "curriculum to support these standards."  On top of that, assessments are "being rolled out before kids have even had a chance to go through it."  Dawne says "kids and teachers are stressed out." Another issue, she says is,  "the group of 27 disbanded, so how do you change it or ratify it, it's problematic" and Dawne says people have "legitimate concerns." 

Bottom line, I knew I needed to start learning about these new standards as my children enter the school system and Dawne says, "we as parents need to understand what's happening."  You can learn more about the Common Core State Standards on their website here

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