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When it comes to the debates around the Common Core State Standards and how best to educate our children, I have a unique perspective: I am a parent of school-aged children, a high school English teacher, and an adjunct college instructor. Every day, through these lenses, I am reminded of how important the Common Core standards are to our students. I’ve seen and experienced the effects of the implementation of the Common Core here in New York, and for me, it’s all added up to a clear picture: the Common Core State Standards mean a better present and a better future for our children.

Andria Finch

It’s frustrating that groups that don’t have the right facts are trying to damp support for the Common Core. We must start preparing our students for future success in college and careers now, not in two years, not in nine years or any other delay under consideration in New York state. Frankly, a moratorium on the Common Core frightens me.  I want my students and my children to have access to the best education we can provide for them.

As a high school teacher, I am amazed at the ways in which Common Core helps my students to think deeply about complex topics. I’ve been teaching for 14 years, and I have been energized and excited by the changes I’ve seen in my students since we started working with the new standards.

I enjoy watching students generate their own ideas and make meaning for themselves. For example, after reading, annotating and discussing the first five chapters in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as four challenging poems including Sylvia Plath’s “The Bee Meeting” and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” my students held a scholarly discussion about their interpretations.  I did not speak for the entire period.

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“Both Kesey and Dunbar portray society as being built of willful ignorance and use metaphor and imagery in order to further develop this theme,” one student told the group.  Another argued, “Kesey and Plath both utilize imagery and figurative language to further enhance their repetition of the colors black and white which represents false innocence.” Each provided evidence from the novel and poems to support their claims. I hadn’t heard anything like it since I was in graduate school.

Teaching as an adjunct professor helps me understand the importance of the critical thinking and communication skills my high school students will need after they graduate. Some of my college students are not as prepared for college as they deserve to be, and they still struggle to grasp concepts that my high school students have already begun to master under the Common Core. But I can already identify a remarkable shift under the Common Core. Now, my high school classes look more like college classes because of the higher level of literary critique and scholarly discussion. This, in turn, will allow my students to be independently successful in college classes because they will be adept at analysis, synthesis and both verbal and written communication.

Finally, I have three children who are learning under the new standards. Like many parents, I help them with their homework and cheer them on in school, and I also keep a keen eye on the rising cost of college. Knowing how rigorous the standards are puts me at ease: I know my children will be less likely to waste time on taking remedial courses, which will help our family save money.  I am excited to see them learn in engaging classrooms in which they are more invested in the topics and focused on student collaboration and participation while they are learning. I know they are getting the best education possible; one that will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults.

As a teacher, adjunct professor and parent, I know how important these standards are for our students, and I know there are many others out there like me who need to set the record straight. Make no mistake, this is challenging work, both for students and teachers, and we need support to continue transitioning to these new expectations, but I cringe at the thought of how impeding the Common Core would impact our children. We cannot halt the tremendous progress that has been made nor make our children wait longer to learn the skills they will need to be successful in college and career. I agree with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, stalling this important work would be cheating our kids – I urge our legislators to hear from educators as they make critical decisions about moving forward with the standards.

Andria Finch is a high school English teacher at Franklin Central School in New York.

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Letters to the Editor

46 Letters

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  1. Exactly! Why would we wait any amount of time to improve the education our children are receiving?! And if we slow down or “pause” implementation in New York, what would we do instead?

  2. Your comment “I did not speak for the entire period” ha the capability of scaring people (I,e., How can a teacher TEACH without talking??)
    That is just evidence that the public needs to be educated about education.
    For that matter, “educating” and “schooling” have not been synonyms in our society for ages. Common Core is just one attempt at making them synonyms.

  3. I appreciate your comment. What I mean by this is that the discussion in my classroom is entirely student-directed because they have been taught the higher order thinking skills and processes required to have intellectual discussions independently. My kids have been practicing these skills, with scaffolding, throughout the school year.

  4. Exactly how does your student driven discussion relate to “testable material”? Which bubble will the students fill in to demonstrate their higher order thinking, and how will it effect your evaluation/salary/ranking/school funding?

  5. Ms. Finch

    What is your view on Teach For America? Further, do you believe five weeks of training would be enough for these new educators to appropriately employ the standards?

  6. Hi Andria,

    While I appreciate that you have your own opinion on this can you help me to understand what you know that Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Professor James Milgram don’t understand. They were the two content experts in ELA and math who refused to sign off on the standards and who have said they will not prepare our kids for college and career. Can you explain the thousands of teachers from your own state who disagree with you such as those who sound off daily at Badass Teachers Association @ Facebook? How about Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College, Dr. Thomas Newkirk of UNH, Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale, Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall, Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young, Dr. Bill Evers of Stanford? How about the statement of deep concern by the Alliance for Childhood signed by numberous early childhood health and education professionals and the hundreds if not thousands of other educators who have come out against Common Core? Again, with all do respect what are they missing that somehow you get? Thank you in advance for your reply.

  7. So let me get this straight…you are teacher and a professor yet you could not challenge or inspire your students before CCSS? That is what frightens me. “Standards” or outcome based education has been proven to NOT work and it never will. How do you explain the many great innovations and inventions of Americans for the last 200 years without CCSS? How in the world did you make it through college? We know you didn’t have CCSS or High stakes testing for that matter. Listen to a REAL educator explain why we DO NOT need CCSS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01_eY4rqEek

  8. You may not realize it but has ELA common core for high school been even implemented yet in New York state? Read this to learn what is really going to happen with common core. http://www.popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=2966

    Also us against the common core have done our research and know that it is bad for all children. It is not equality that we want but equity. Equity is fair. Equality is not. The same is not fair. This is not working for special needs children. It is sad!

  9. The suggested moratorium on the Race To The Top
    and it’s tentacles is a factually driven evidence based
    decision unlike the common core standards, the
    use of longitudinal data systems for tracking children
    from pre-k to 20 years old and high stakes
    testing as a means of measurement if student
    learning. These standards are in fact inferior
    to the standards our own district has had in place
    for nearing a decade.

    Much of what is spoken about in terms of support
    for the common core agenda is one sided propaganda
    generated by private corporations , their non-profit
    arms and politicians looking for a magic bullet
    to address educational woes whose purpose
    is primarily profit and power motivated .

    The undue influence of the aforementioned entities
    capitalized on the growing myth that all schools
    are failing which they are not and that the reason
    they are failing is because the schools and parents
    are failing them which categorically is untrue.

    The standards themselves were not validated by two
    of the only content specialists on the standards
    validation committee. One if those persons
    was personally responsible for the much lauded
    Massachusetts standards.

    Contrary to the propaganda that these new standards
    are higher they are in fact not . The lower grades
    particularly k-3 are developmentally inappropriate in many instances often requiring higher order abstract thinking
    and quantitative reasoning which is not possible using
    the frontal cortex which is still in a developing phase.
    The way in which it can be accessed us through the
    limbic system which is the part of the brain responsible
    for fear. This is the same part of the brain accessed
    for conditioning was references in the work
    of Skinner. Further the standards are not developed
    to deliver students into STEM careers as testified
    by the lead writer of the math standards Jason
    Zimba.

    I would be concerned if the moratorium was not put in
    place when all of the facts are considered specifically
    when engaging in critical thinking on the matter.

  10. As a high school teacher, you are really not effected by the common core. All it effects you is through the APPR harassment. If you were a parent of a student being attacked by these corporate standards, designed to force failure on our children, you might have another opinion. If you taught in the younger grades, where the complete inappropriateness of these “standards” is painfully evident, you might have another opinion. Do not pay lip service for the corporate elite, who are using you as insurgent cannon fodder to promote the privatization of our schools. I also question who paid you for this hack job editorial piece. I call BS . High school teacher and doctor of education from NYC. Parent of a 4th grade public school student. ^0^

  11. When CCSS first came in my radar, I was teaching at the secondary level. I saw how many of the standards were things I was already teaching. However, after teaching at the elementary level for the past two years, I am now opposed to the standards and the tests that accompany them. Many of the skills expected to be taught in the primary grades under CCSS are developmentally inappropriate for our youngest students.

  12. Students do not need the Common Core standards or the content of the Odell modules in order to read, annotate, discuss, “think deeply about complex topics,” or “hold a “scholarly discussion.” Such tasks and explorations have been occurring in and out of English classrooms for a very long time … long before the Common Core, canned teaching modules, and the “college and career readiness” propaganda.

    How were you ready for college and career? The Common Core didn’t exist when you were an undergraduate and graduate student!

    Think of your favorite teacher or mentor … Did that relationship, your growth as a student, or your enlightenment have anything to do with data, test scores, scripted curricula, Common Core learning standards, etc,?

    Our students do not need these reforms in order to learn and thrive. They need good teachers with high expectations. They need good teachers who are experts in their subject area. They need teachers who encourage free inquiry and creativity.

    The student responses quoted above are ready to slide right into an English Regents essay. Is the tail of assessment still wagging the dog of instruction?

    The Common Core isn’t helping your students “think deeply” or “generate their own ideas.” Your role as teacher is paramount. Would you say that, prior to the Common Core and the modules, your students never generated their own ideas or possessed a deep thought? Would you say that they were incapable of reading challenging poems or other texts? Would you say that you were incapable of teaching challenging texts? What is it exactly that the Common Core is giving you that you didn’t have prior to its existence?

  13. Andria – I have a few questions
    1. Where is your research data that CC has provided a better present and future for our children?
    2. Where is the research that says that CC will make our children College and Career Ready? Have the standards been piloted to validate that?
    3. Prior to the CC – your students didn’t thing or examine deeply?
    4. Prior to CC your students weren’t taught to think critically or develop communication skills?
    I’m happy that you can make a prediction for your own children’s future college plans, but my son, who is learning disabled, is watching his future, and love for science, going down the drain. As an educator of 28 years, and a former adjunct professor, I will tell you that these standards are awful, they are riddled with errors, their requirements are not rooted in any kind of research that says they are more “rigorous”, they weren’t written by teachers, they have never been piloted or studied, they are copyrighted, and as I am sure you can tell, I can go on and on. As a teacher I have watched them stifle some of the best educators in the business and sadly destroy children’s love of learning. I am happy they are good for your children but they are NOT good for many – ask the 70% of kids who failed the CC exams in NYS.

  14. Funny thing, we have a lot in common . High School English teacher for 30 years, adjunct, and parent of school age kids subjected to the core. BUT we come to a different conclusion about the core. NYS had very good learning standards before the core and I did numerous activities that challenged students to think critically. The tasks given to my children at the elementary level are developmentally inappropriate as a result , they are missing basics. So good luck teaching them when the kids of the core get there! They will be missing the basics . My other question is why do colleges accept kids who aren’t ready and don’T have the skills? Could it be for the tuition they bring? Sounds to me you are looking for some type of administrative job OUT of the classroom ? And supporting the core is a way to get the job!

  15. Let’s just say everything you assert in your piece about the effectiveness of Common Core is accurate and on point. What are your thoughts on the testing that is tied to it? What about technology? Considering there is a direct correlation between income level and test scores, doesn’t the Common Core play significant role in replicating social inequality? It is in my humble opinion that as a teacher, my primary agenda is to be an agent for social justice. That being the case, how is the larger puzzle that Common Core fits in to socially just? Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

  16. My question to you is, why is this change in your classroom credited to CC? Why was this reading, analyzing and discussion not going on before the CC Standards were introduced? It seems to me that this should be ‘standard’ activity in any high school English class.

  17. While I appreciate that you have your own opinion on this can you help me to understand what you know that Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Professor James Milgram don’t understand. They were the two content experts in ELA and math who refused to sign off on the standards and who have said they will not prepare our kids for college and career. Can you explain the thousands of teachers from your own state who disagree with you such as those who sound off daily at Badass Teachers Association @ Facebook? How about Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College, Dr. Thomas Newkirk of UNH, Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale, Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall, Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young, Dr. Bill Evers of Stanford? How about the statement of deep concern by the Alliance for Childhood signed by numberous early childhood health and education professionals and the hundreds if not thousands of other educators who have come out against Common Core? Again, with all do respect what are they missing that somehow you get? Thank you in advance for your reply.

  18. “I know they are getting the best education possible; one that will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults.”

    Please provide evidence that your children are getting the best education possible. A good answer will compare the Common Core to every other possible education.

    Please also let us know how this education will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults. Please address the objection that you have no idea what the future holds for your children.

    This essay is filled with grand claims and minimal evidence.

  19. I don’t understand how were you teaching before CC. Were you that bad of a teacher that you had no idea what to do? I know that can’t be true. The only reason we’re asking for a moratorium is to assess the impacts before it causes undue harm, especially in relation to teacher evaluation. We’re asking to release the high stakes of it so that the standards can be accessed as a guide. We’re asking especially to watch developmental appropriateness for the youngest students. I would be scared about that! I am!

  20. Andria? Are you still there? Apparently, it is too hard to continue to advocate FOR CCSS. When one has no facts to support their claims, I guess it’s time to cut and run….

  21. Needing “standards” of any kind to encourage deep thinking by your students doesn’t reflect well on any teacher. America needs more rogue, “out-of-the-box” teachers to encourage unique thought. There are NO standards or tests that measure that! #Evaluatethat

  22. I got through the University of California, Berkeley, just fine without the CC$$. I imagine you did the same somewhere else. Why is our educational system portrayed as broken when so many people have gone before the CC$$ and done just fine? Did you not teach critical thinking before these standards were in place? As a primary school teacher in a poor area of the country, I am worried about how my students will react when they are all deemed failures. How can you say that this is good for your NY students when over 3/4 of your students, after taking the PARCC test, are considered far below proficient? Any professor or teacher worth their salt would know that some adjustments have to be made when they receive test scores like these. This is a concerted effort by corporations to make public schools look like failures and you have bought right into it.

  23. First of all….NO ONE is saying we shouldn’t have high standards and to challenge our children. What your article was missing is the following:
    !. Elemenatry children will not have the foundational skills needed to complete these high standards. Theya are being rushed through material that is sometimes too high for them, without any chance to review because they need to get thru a certain amount of units. Children IEP’s and 504 are being left in the dust. Maybe that is the plan…. to weed out the weak (in academics) Sound familiar????

    2. The elementary curriculum was implemented with the assumption that these children have had cc for the last few years and have the background needed to be successful…..wrong again. Our children were set up for failure right from the beginning.

    3. You may teach HS, but it is a completely different world then Elementary school. I taught for 9 years and have a special education degree. There are so many things wrong with what is taking place in today’s educational world. Not everyones system was broken. In my district we could’ve used a stronger emphasis on our HS curriculum and challenged the kids more, but leave the elementary ones alone. they were doing just fine.

    4. I don’t know what age your children are, because you failed to share that, but when I substitute in my district all I see is the love for school and for learning fading quickly. There are No more dioramas in the hallways and projects hanging formt he walls. There is no time for that. Froget Science and Social studies…there is no time. These kids needs hours and hours of math and ELA to get them college and career ready. I say let’s get them out of elementary school first.

    HS teachers live in a bubble. They teach the same course 2-3 or even 4 times a day. I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying it is NOT elementary school where you teach 7-8 subjects a day and need to be a parnet and counselor all at the same time. We need to teach kids to LOVE school so they will want to go to college.

  24. Dear Ms. Finch,

    I read your column with interest because I wanted to know why a teacher would support the Common Core. What I would like to know is what you were doing with your students before Common Core. What you describe as happening in your classes sounds like what was going in my Regents English, AP English and AP social studies classes back when I was in high school in the early to mid 1980s. There was no Common Core back then. Yet teachers were still able to push their students to their maximum potential. Not all students are academically oriented, that is okay, and Common Core isn’t going to change that. Academically oriented kids don’t need Common Core to be that, just enthusiastic teachers who love to teach.

    The Common Core State Standards isn’t going to improve on that. If anthing, the standards and the scripted lessons (especially those provided by engageNY), are going to kill that. Telling the teacher exactly what to teach, how to teach it and how much time should be spent on it is going quelch all creativity and enthusiasm in teaching. That is one of the many reasons I do not like the common core and see nothing wrong with delaying it.

    The other objections that I, and many others who oppose the CC, is that it is forcing material on kids, especially in the lower grades, that are not age-appropriate. The mandated CC-aligned tests in grades 3-8 are forcing teachers to teach to the test, especially in school districts with low scores, thus relegating subjects like science, social studies and foreign languages to the back burner. Our kids need to learn these things to to be “college and career ready”.

    High school is very different from elementary school. How much exposure have you had to CC in the lower grades? Are your school age children in the lower grades? How has their experience been with CC homework, classwork and the tests? I have two kindergarteners and a 4th grader. Their experiences have not been good. I do not like what I am seeing. Much of their work is repetitive, assembly line work. My son is learning “close reading”, not “reading between the lines.” What will your high school class be like when the younger generation who has only been exposed to CC ELA like? I don’t think it will be as dynamic as the one you have now with kids who didn’t grow up with CC.

  25. While I value all of your opinions, I simply wrote about MY experience in MY classroom. I have no hidden agenda. I am not looking to be in administration, nor am I looking for any other job than the one I have now. I love teaching and I love my kids. There are many teachers out there that have seen a positive impact based on the new standards. It is pretty obvious to my students that I love them and care about their futures and would never implement anything in my classroom that I felt would harm them. While I feel that I have always been in the right profession and doing the best job I can with my students, I feel that the new standards have helped in implementing the skills required for college and career readiness. My children are all in elementary school and have had a positive experience with the new standards. I really feel that personal attacks are quite inappropriate. And yes, I did fine in college, but I did not attend college in the same era as my students will. It is an entirely different world out there than we all attended school. I think that it is important to hold kids to high standards and they will meet or exceed these standards. Also, I am a well-respected teacher in my district and have had successful scholarly discussions in my classroom prior to the CCSS; HOWEVER, I feel that this has helped, most of all, my struggling students to learn the skills necessary to take part in these discussions, rather than only the kids whose parents have academic discussions at home. Again, I am telling my story, about my kids, in my school, from my perspective. There should be a balance of perspectives and the negative messages are what make the news.

  26. I appreciate the fact that we don’t nor should we all agree, but how we engage in a dialogue is critical.

    Several posts referenced elementary school aged children. I am the parent of a 2nd grader who is engaged in common core learning. Our families experience, but most importantly my child’s, has been positive. She engages daily in text based conversations with her peers, is building a shared background knowledge for future learning, is expanding her academic vocabulary, her writing includes details from the text she is reading and is foundationly sound, she is fluent in reading and numeracy, has a deep understanding of place value that is providing her the foundation for addition and subtraction.

    I do not know what her experiences would be if it weren’t for the common core learning standards, but I know she is being appropriately challenged and supported by her teachers. I am greatful that her teachers, teachers like Andria and many that commented above are committed to the learning of all students. Please, let us engage in civil discourse. Let us share our successes and challenges in a way that can further and extend the learning for ALL students regardless of geography, education status, race, or class.

  27. There are many opinions surrounding this issue. Many of which are supported by very educated individuals with very big credentials. What Ms. Finch has done is share one story from a teacher’s point of view.
    She is seeing success in her classroom. Many teaching strategies have changed. Classrooms are much more student led than ever before. No longer is the teacher disseminating knowledge, rather they are guiding students to that knowledge on their own. The outcomes she is seeing are therefore more meaningful to those students because the outomes are truly owned by the students.
    There are many teachers seeing these kinds of successes who are too frightened to share because of reactions such as these shared here. Teachers at heart are not prone to bragging. The successes of their students are held close. Ms. Finch courageously put herself in the line of fire to applauded and celebrate the learning in her classroom. I applaud her for this courage and for enduring the criticism associated with putting her story out there.
    Politics are for policy makers. That is where discussions concerning policy should be directed. Certainly not at someone caring for and molding the minds of children.
    I hope that dispite this criticism she continues to celebrate the learning of her students on a very public level. I encourage many others seeing these positive outcomes to celebrate their students and be courageous enough to share their stories. Many teachers are seeing tremendous gains as a result of Common Core. Let your stories be heard!

  28. Is it perfect? No. Has the implementation been well executed? No. Is the testing tied to the core_____(too many choice words to choose from!!)? Um…NO. Should it be tied to high stakes for kids and APPR for teachers? Not at this point with all these unresolved issues.

    Is there potential for CC to make a huge positive impact on the quality of education, and to produce not only more qualified HS graduates, but also better teachers? ABSOLUTELY. Yes, we made it through college without CC preparation as some of you argue…I know many classmates who didn’t go to college, and others who went and failed out. I have contact with some current college students who lack basic skills, or can’t write to save their lives, and I think…how???

    I think people get confused and lump all of the bad together with all that is good. (CC Standards vs. implementation, testing, APPR, corporate agendas) The standards are not the enemy. I recently found an article about the “new” 4th grade test in 1998. (I was teaching 4th grade then.) It was pretty ironic. Uproar then too…now we have the benefit of new standards, guidelines, and some commonality in education among all schools. Kids who move a lot (and our district has many of those) should have a more consistent education. When I moved rom teaching a multi-handicapped preschool class to 4th grade there was nothing that clearly told me what I needed to cover. (“Well, just use the textbook.” was a common answer when I asked.) Teachers now have a clear idea of what they are supposed to be teaching, and DO still have some say in HOW to teach those standards. (Even those of us who are required to teach the NYS modules.) We are farther ahead than we were in 1998. Yes, I hope we still grow and improve! There is always room for that!

    I look around my school at students and teachers who are valiantly rising to the challenge, boosting one another up through the difficulties and celebrating together over the successes. I have seen teachers collaborating and having meaningful, positive multi-grade level discussions over lunch. I have seen teachers go to the principal without shame or fear to seek help in improving their craft. (wow!) I am blessed to now work for a principal highly educated in the realities of being an elementary teacher, as well as the content and core. I have seen students ASK to do more math problems…”That’s cool! I get it now, I want to do more.” Some parents are upset. It is not the way they (we) learned to do it. It is really ok! The students are getting it. They are going to be able to really understand, not just follow a set of memorized steps to get a random answer. (The way many of us were taught.) They are being taught to THINK mathematically. (and write and speak). In our generation, only some made that leap of understanding at a deeper level, it was not taught, explained offered. We learned (or not) and maybe understood. “Why learn different ways? We did just fine!” Oh come on! “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” Da Vinci might not mind to much if we also substituted child and parent…

  29. Simply because a student can incorporate details into his or her writing or have text-based conversations with peers does not mean the student is thrilled to be in English class or that extraordinary learning is taking place. Many would argue that these skills are not necessarily valuable. Such writing and conversation tends to be very formulaic, especially when it’s a product of the modules.

    There’s so much emphasis on evidence-based writing that more creative forms of writing are taking a back seat. Creative writing helps students take risks, experiment, play with diction and syntax. It helps them own their writing. Brains are free to travel, imagine, and formulate. It’s much more cognitive. If we emphasized more creative writing, our students might begin to see that all writing is creative. We would start to see essays and research that’s less formulaic and procedural and much more interesting to read. Pulling evidence from a text and making claims are pretty straight forward skills — not to mention quite boring — imagine if our students had a foundation of strong creative writing skills to tap into. Imagine if they loved to write before we forced them down the road of the high school essay or the claim.

    We want evidence-based writing because the tests demand it (the SAT included). This form of writing is extremely formulaic and mediocre. It’s legalistic writing, procedural. It’s a bad habit and hard to break.

    Because of the tests and because of the modules, we’re still focused on the rote acquisition of skills. The CC might be a fine set of standards, but they’ve been trapped and diminished by the modules and the high-stakes testing. The 3-8 tests have a powerful impact on instruction. Like I said above, the tail of assessment wags the dog of instruction.

    Many great English teachers would argue that the intellectual life is being squeezed out of classrooms because of the canned curriculum, the overemphasis on data, and the overemphasis on standardized tests (achievement). Students need to stop worrying about how good they are, how they measure up. They need to be able to think, explore, and write without the focus always being on the outcome. They, like teachers, need autonomy. The CCLS beg for it. The “reforms” infringe upon this autonomy.

    And I’m still dumbfounded that some think the CCLS have somehow changed what strong ELA teachers have been doing in classrooms for decades, or that our children are somehow better off with the CCLS and the modules. Do you work for state ed.? There’s nothing innovative about the standards or the modules. We’ve simply been forced to adopt them — teachers, principals, superintendents, BOCES, etc,. Our jobs are tied to their implementation. It’s a sorry situation and definitely a wrong turn into the 21st century for education and learning.

  30. As a former elementary Math AIS teacher and now the principal of a K-5 city school in NY, I can tell you my research is happening in the classrooms! Watching the students’ light bulbs go on when they finally understand a problem…wishing I had taught that strategy in my AIS class. These standards make you teach in a different way. Just as Andria spoke of in her article, we are all trying to do what’s best for kids and the standards have pushed my teachers to try new things. And guess what??? They are doing it! I am so blessed to have a group of teachers who have embraced the standards and are looking to better their craft by collaborating with their colleagues, experiencing high quality professional development and bringing me their questions when they have them. That’s right, they come to me when they don’t understand something…me…their lead evaluator for APPR!!! I have been brought to tears watching these teachers and students “getting it!” My only wish is that I had the common core when I was teaching. I would have done a better job preparing my students for their futures!

  31. I’m curious as to why it took common core to get your students to think deeply about complex topics.

  32. I understand why there is so much anger and frustration with the Common Core. It’s new and us adults can’t wrapt our heads around how our children are being taught. I am the parent of a 8th grader and a kindergartner, and I can tell you that with my 5 year old, I am learning the CC breakdown for the beginning and I can see the connection. My 8th grader, I am lost and she is fortunate to have amazing teachers that are giving that extra help to her. Teachers like Andria who are stepping up, taking the tools and resources offered and implementing the new standards should be praised, not attacked. Her article was a great way to show how one teacher is making a difference and going with the system, rather than fighting it. These are the standars that NYS says our children need to be competitive and college ready. Fighting it, the teachers and the administration doesn’t help anyone., certainly not our children who are dealing with this every day and need our support. How effective will this be if our kids hear nothing but complaints, criticism and angry comments at home, while they are struggling to learn? This process is new, it’s a change (which nobody likes) and it’s emotional because as parents we aren’t able to help our kids like we were used to. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Give it a chance and support teachers, like Andria, who are facing head on and trying to impact our children’s lives.

  33. Increasing the standards for education is definitely something that should have been done a long time ago. The common core definitely does that, however, those standards may be set too high in some instances. There is also a lack of time to teach all of the material required by the common core. Whoever made the time limits on the teacher materials either a.) has never taught in a classroom before or b.) has not taught in a classroom in 30 years and has never taught students with disabilities.

    The common core was implemented horribly. I didn’t get to see the first module for the Algebra curriculum until the second day after school had started. The second through fifth modules weren’t even completed yet.

    When all of this is tied to teacher evaluations one can see where frustration would set in very quickly. Imagine if your job depends on teaching something that is non-existent and then you are judged on how your students do. The common core needs a moratorium to be TESTED and IMPROVED. It was shoddily put together and rolled out like garbage.

  34. @Kerri — If teachers are just disseminating someone else’s product and don’t have a hand and heart in the content of their courses, then our kids are definitely not getting the education they deserve. They’re getting something altogether different … They’re consuming educational products. Where’s the fire, the curiosity, the creativity, the free inquiry? Colleges and the future will need this sort of spirited learner more than it needs train-track thinkers, which is what the Common Core, the modules, the standardized testing, and the other “reforms” are creating.

    It’s an awful world if we’re not fighting the system.

    The Common Core is not “new.” There’s nothing in the ELA or the math standards that’s “new.” These are learning standards that have been around in some form or fashion for decades. Most teachers have been addressing such standards for a long time.

    I don’t think these “tools and resources” are being “offered.” These are mandates that have been forced into schools with virtually no parent and teacher input. If we’re going to consider them tools and resources then they should be completely optional. They’re not. Most teachers are more than capable of developing their own curricula that go above and beyond anything found in the Common Core or the Odell teaching modules.

    As a parent, I’m fighting for those teachers that I know work above and beyond the mediocrity of the Odell modules and the limited-in-scope Common Core Standards. I want to support their autonomy and their expertise. It’s the teachers that are getting our students ready for college and career, not the Common Core, not the modules, not the standardized tests, etc,. When a teacher is forced to teach via script or forced to teach to the test because his or her job depends on it…that’s rotten for everyone involved. There’s very little meaningful teaching and learning taking place.

    Our kids shouldn’t be herded down the narrow tunnel of high-stakes testing, overemphasis on data, weak curricular products, and weak standards. They need their more-than-capable teachers. That’s it.

  35. Andria, thank you so much for speaking from experience. There are too few people in the position you are in who have the time, the energy, or the courage to tell their stories. I know from experience that there are many who agree with you: parents, children, and teachers alike. I hear their stories every single day. My favorites are the ones that my own children tell.

    Last night, my 13 year old lit up our dinner table with her new found interest in Scout and Jem and Atticus Finch. In her school some teachers are choosing to work with the NYS curriculum modules, and she had the good fortune of being placed with one. “Mom, I’m worried for the kids who aren’t doing what we’re doing in my class,” she told me, completely unprovoked. “I don’t know how the could possibly be learning as much.”

    She has done far more reading, far more writing, and far more learning than I have ever witnessed before. More importantly, she continually shares stories about the protocols her teachers are using in class, how she’s engaging far more often with her peers than ever before, and how “it all works to make for really deep conversations.” Does this mean that her teachers are without talent or expertise? No. It means that designing a quality curricula and deepening our practice is incredibly challenging work. We have so much to learn after we earn our teaching certificates. Ask any teacher worth holding the title–many will tell you how uncertain they feel when they close the door to their classrooms each night. Many that I know tell me that they’ve learned more in the last three years than they have in the whole of their careers. And what they have learned–regardless of where it came from or which professor from what university disapproves of it–is helping them. It is serving their students. That’s who we need to be paying attention to: OUR STUDENTS…not the noise surrounding them.

    Teaching is hard work. Becoming a master teacher? That’s the work of a career. Our kids don’t have the time to wait on that kind of progress. So many of the teachers I work with tell me that new standards, the shifts that underpin them, and the abundant support provided to them in the curricular materials they are exploring are giving them a leg up. Many of them tell me that they are feeling renewed by this work. Excited. Hopeful.

    What’s sad is that most of these people speak in whispers, behind closed doors, through email, and over the phone. They don’t want to be heard by those who will treat them to a lecture at best and a tirade at worst. They don’t want to have to defend themselves to critics who have not taken the time to understand the standards, let alone implement them.

    I firmly believe that far more good is going on than the internet and the media would have anyone believe. When people are satisfied and busied by their good work, they don’t typically take the time to share. They are invested in their students and could care less what the critics have to say. Their hearts are too full to look for company. That’s what misery looks for.

    Thank you for speaking for so many of your colleagues and for parents like me who are educators too. It’s an interesting role to be in for certain. You’re more informed and have a variety of perspectives and experiences that many do not. We’d do well to listen to stories like yours more often.

  36. Never before has a profession been under attack in the way that education is now. I am, and always will be, proud of fellow educators like Andria who are willing to open their classroom door and share what is happening in their classroom. Andria goes even further in this post- sharing a K-12 perspective by adding the lens of patent and college professor. How many can truly speak from that vantage point?
    Yet rather than celebrate this sharing- which is published very clearly as an opinion- Andria is vilified in the comments. Even her attempts to clarify her position, to engage with others of a different opinion, to offer another perspective are continually met with comments that minimize the success she is celebrating and deflate the profession she is representing. Why is it that Andria, or the teachers like her who are experiencing success in their classroom, should be met with such hostility? Such hatred? Such unprofessional behavior?
    Teaching is a profession. It involves continual learning, constant reflection and a certification of skills and ability. Even more for that, for a large number of teachers it is a calling. The call to support, to help, to engage, to lift others – the call to help ensure that the next generation is even better prepared, better equipped to handle the world than ours was. That is why I became an educator, why those I work with chose the profession and clearly why Andria did as well.
    Our brains are wired to focus on problems, not strengths. But narrowly focusing on the “problems” of common core learning standards, of their implementation or of any other of the changes in education that are linked to a shift in standards will not support our students, our future. Focusing on the “bright spots,” the moments of success, the glimpse of what IS working, and then studying those moments-working to replicate them in our setting and sharing again- that is how we should be responding to change. Andria has offers up a “bright spot” and rather than appreciating that perspective, that glimpse into her classroom and the success she is having, commenters here attempt to tear it down. What is that modeling for our students?
    Great things are happening in classrooms every day- I see them regularly. And yes, great things happened before the Common Core as well. But the “common” in the standards has made the sharing of bright spots, the connections between classrooms not just across a state but the country even more powerful as we are able to speak with a common vocabulary about the expectations for learning. The standards are clear, scaffolded and present an objective for for learning. Can you honestly read an anchor standard and tell me one that is not something you want students (or adults) to be able to do? One that is not relevant to success is current careers? One that will not be relevant for the careers of the future?
    Thank you Andria for opening the door to your classrooms, for sharing your perspective and for offering a “bright spot” for your fellow educators to learn from. Without voices like yours sharing their stories we won’t be able to make the changes that are need to, as you say, “make a better present and future for our children.”

  37. You mean you sucked as a teacher until now? You couldn’t implement a good teaching style until now. So, the curriculum stands out rather than the children? Parents never mattered, only the right curriculum?

  38. So, if the discussions are “student led” I would assume ANYONE can be a teacher these days? Way to make yourself irrelevant.

  39. I’m sorry…I cannot take you seriously as you have written ….almost word for word …the pro common core propaganda I’ve seen on ” their ” sites…good for you hitting on all the KEY TALKING POINTS (right from their mouth to your hands) though!

  40. Sounds like the right wing propaganda machine is continuing to clank away from deep within its echo chamber as the horrors of “no child left behind” are finally being left in the dust.

    Just as President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for “not being Bush”, Common Core will get an award for simply not being “no child left behind”.

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