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Teachers, Republicans: Freeze 'Botched' Common Core Implementation

The Connecticut Education Association and House Republicans want to bring all stakeholders to the table to reassess the implementation of the controversial testing standards and teacher evaluations.

House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk). Credit: Cafero's website
House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk). Credit: Cafero's website

Republican legislators are adding their voices to a growing chorus of education advocates calling for the state to pull the emergency brake on the controversial Common Core State Standards.

The effort gained momentum this week when Republicans rallied to secure the 51 signatures needed to force a public hearing on Common Core — and, at the same time, set the stage for the introduction of two bills that would freeze implementation of Common Core and create a subcommittee to review teacher evaluation components of the standards.

“Educational standards impact everyone in our state and taking the time to make sure the people have a chance to voice their opinions is the right thing to do,” state Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck) said. “Our teachers, administrators, parents and students deserve a public hearing to express their opinions.”

Calls for the public hearing began last week from House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk).

Republican Bills Call for Freeze & Study

According to a press release from House Republicans:

Proposed Bill No. 5078, authored by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano (R-23), would freeze the implementation of the Common Core curriculum for further study until all stakeholders have time to examine its potential effects and reduce classroom evaluations for teachers.

Proposed Bill No. 5331, put forth by the House Republican caucus, calls for the creation of a subcommittee of classroom teachers to discuss and share their issues involving the teacher evaluation program, reduces the number of formal classroom evaluations to one per school year, reduces the amount of goals to be established by each teacher, streamlines data management, and enables the exclusion of student scores on statewide mastery tests, including the Smarter Balanced assessment test, from being factored into a teacher’s evaluation.

In response, Education Committee Co-Chairman Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, told the Connecticut Post"I don't even understand how that bill is properly before the General Assembly. I did not have a single Republican colleague approach me about the Common Core curriculum before February of 2014. Not one." 

'Botched' Implementation of Common Core

Connecticut has joined 45 other states in adopting Common Core; the state did so on July 7, 2010, and this is the first school year they are being implemented. [Read the state's "Strategic Plan" for implementation.]

Late last month, in response to the growing criticism of Common Core, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was successful in getting the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council to delay the standards for one year.

And while the implementation has been years in the making, a new poll from the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) says an overwhelming majority of teachers feel the rollout has been mismanaged.

“Teachers always have and will continue to support high standards, but the enormity of the botched CCSS rollout has caused wide-spread frustration," said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg. "Teachers are demanding that Connecticut get this right. That’s why—this time around—teachers need to be at the center, not the distant periphery, of standard setting and implementation.”

CEA represents 43,000 teachers, and the organization held a press conference in Hartford Wednesday to announce the results of its new poll.

“With nearly 1,500 teachers participating in our survey," Waxenberg continued, "it provides policymakers with what they never had before—specificity from the frontlines of public education and teachers’ clear ideas about what is necessary for student success.”

And here's what they think, according to a press release from CEA:

  1. The opportunity for teachers to be involved in their schools’ planning for Common Core, as well as the chance to give feedback in order to improve implementation.
  2. More time for teachers to plan and practice good lessons, receive high-quality training, and observe and collaborate with colleagues.
  3. More time for students to learn and succeed at more rigorous standards.
  4. More financial resources to make sure classrooms are equipped with the required technology and that students have access to updated Common Core-aligned textbooks.
  5. A moratorium on accountability provisions tied to the Smarter Balanced test so that students and teachers can have time to prepare.

CEA welcomed news from top policymakers that, in the next two weeks, they would establish a Common Core State Standards working group of teachers and other educators from across the state to make recommendations on Common Core implementation. The policymakers included Democrats Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald Williams, and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, according to CEA.

'Save Our Schools'

Another group, Parent-Teacher “Save our Schools” Alliance (PT-SOS) is also calling on legislators to mend or end implementation of Common Core. The organization held a press conference Thursday at the Legislative Office Building.

"The Parent-Teacher 'Save our Schools' Alliance (PT-SOS) calls on legislators to stop the madness in our schools by listening to parents and teachers. The group is calling for passage of Ethan’s Law – which would allow parents to opt their child out of standardized testing."

 

Middletown Voter February 28, 2014 at 05:19 PM
It's true that corporate interests have led the reform movement. They see a very lucrative market in education reform, whether it is in selling us No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, or Common Core, or whatever replaces it. No doubt CC will be revised, due to the outcry against it. As an educator, I have to ask the reformers. As we know, the vast majority of students are doing very well. Yes, there is an achievement gap, which we have a moral obligation to address. But why are we upsetting the entire system to address this? Why change entire curricula - why upset the whole school system - to reach the kids who need us the most? It's not a socialist plot, nor is it Big Bad Brother. It's corporate profit interests. The promise of filthy lucre drives the whole thing.
Cohort February 28, 2014 at 05:43 PM
John Flanagan, I think you are misreading my post. I am completely against CC. I have been outspoken on this for several years. I view it as a way of dumbing down CT so other states like Missouri can catch up. I'm completely dismayed that our local leaders have taken us down this path. I'm particularly disturbed at the cheerleader mentality of school administrators who try to spoon feed CC to the parents. We pay the administrators big bucks to do right by our kids, not to sugar coat Hartford's/Washington's propaganda. And once CC is gone, I want these administrators fired. My point though, is that you can't just turn it off. Tell me, what would you start to teach the 6th graders come Monday morning? You can't just simply switch to what they would have been learning under the old standard at this time of year. Math doesn't work that way. It would be like taking a flight from NY to LA and half way through the trip you decide you no longer want to go - so you open the plane's door and step out.... Bad solution.
Walton Burns February 28, 2014 at 05:57 PM
@Redcoat I think that Coleman was hired by the NGA to write those standards in 2009, if I'm not mistaken. In any case my point is Obama didn't write them. The White House didn't write them so the many comments before mine, claiming that the Common Core is a socialist plot by Obama are inaccurate. And linking it to the IRS or Chicago politics or Obamacare is truly scraping the bottom of the paranoia barrel.
John Flanagan February 28, 2014 at 06:42 PM
Cohort, You are still wrong. If something is being done wrong, you stop it and restart. and, sorry, math does work that way because the knowledge is the same. It's a methodology that's being foisted improperly out of sequence by your description. And, you appear to be stating that the current system has been in place for 6 to 10 years. Try one to two. And, the remediation needs to start on Monday. We may lose some budding scientists; but, the mathematically inclined will recover. The schools will have to undo the damage beginning Now! Unfortunately, just like the "new math" era of the 1970's & '80s, there will be some 6th graders who lose. Sorry, but that's the price we, and the children, pay for forgetting that we can't let the inmates run the asylum. The damage has been allowed to run because the school system is built inversely to the promotion of good teaching. The best way to a good paycheck is not to make waves and rise in the management echelons. Putting it slightly differently, the education system is built to function as the Peter Principle at its maximum. All the while telling parents and taxpayers that we just don't understand. The folks who have given us the Common Core, if they are actually in the educations system (many are not), have risen to their level of incompetency while blaming the rest of us for their failures. And, our elected officials in Hartford have let them for appearance sake in election years.
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Walton, I agree with your comments in regards to some of the craziness, but we need people to tell the truth of the origins of Common Core Mercedes Schneider a teacher from Louisiana has a great read on her blog called, The Common Core Memorandum of Understanding: What a Story A long post but worth the read. CC was never "State Led". We are in the beginning of Marc Tucker's top down Federal controlled education plan that he promoted to the Clinton's shortly after Bill Clinton became President, so these ideas have been around for a long time. Just wait until the money comes flowing from Obama to promote Arnie Duncan's plan of longer school days (13 to 14 hours a day), seven days a week, 11 months out of the year. He wants our kids to receive 3 meals a day, get health care services in school, and be entertained there on weekends. Here in CT, there have been two projects out to bid for Health and Dental clinics to be built in schools in Stamford and Waterbury. How in the world can we afford that? Arnie Duncan, David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, Michelle Rhea, Stefan Prior - common theme behind all these people? They were never teachers at any level, but are responsible for this stupid CC.

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