Over the last few weeks, at events large and small in Republican and Tea Party circles, when it comes time for questions, one of the first is about Common Core. At the Fulton County Republican Party fundraiser with Dr. Ben Carson last week, in both the VIP Reception of the “well-heeled” and the main ballroom during the question and answer portion, Common Core came up.
ZPolitics will have columns in support and opposition to Common Core, but first wanted to reach out the Department of Education and get their side of the story.
Matt Cardoza, spokesman for Superintendent John Barge, talked to ZPolitics about Common Core. Off the top, he made the point that states came together to form a “common core” and in no way are teachers being told how to teach. When asked about the biggest misconception about Common Core, he said the belief that data will be collected on students who participate in Common Core. That misconception came from a report about states participating in “Race to the Top” and using the services of In Bloom Education, Inc are reporting data to In Bloom. Georgia was mentioned in that report. Cardoza says the “state isn’t and never will” participate in sharing student data. There are a few local school systems in Georgia who are reporting data.
We are losing the race to other countries in core curriculum and how students are performing. The Georgia Department of Education believes there should be a set of standards that every child should meet. Cardoza equated it to a Boy Scout Handbook. There are the list of badges you need to become an Eagle Scout. There are the steps you need to complete those badges, but it might be accomplished differently from Scout to Scout as long as the steps are met. He says these standards are localized to the school level.
Tea Party and other Republicans are concerned there are too many strings attached to Common Core as it relates to the Race to the Top money. Georgia adopted what they called Common Core before the Race to the Top monies were in play.
Here’s the statement from State School Superintendent, John Barge on Common Core:
“Georgia’s previous K-12 standards were used to write much of the Common Core State Standards, so I don’t have an issue with them. It is a state-led set of standards that Georgia had a lot of influence in developing. These standards are clearer and more focused and help students get the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and careers. They also give consistent expectations across states so they are portable. If a student leaves one state and comes to Georgia, he or she will not have to learn a completely new set of standards. For teachers, the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards are not much of an adjustment because they are so closely aligned to the previous set of standards. With Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, teachers can share across state lines what works best for improving student achievement. Finally, with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, there is a potential long-term savings on textbooks and instructional resources that come with consistent materials developed throughout the country.”
Here are also the data points from the Georgia Department of Education on this issue:
Facts about Common Core Georgia Performance Standards
The Common Core State Standards was a state-led initiative, led by our nation’s Governors, and co-chaired by former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. The development of a set of common academic standards sprung from the work of the National Governors Association’s International Standards Benchmarking Initiative, which looked at what would be needed to ensure that our students are internationally competitive. At the conclusion of that work, there was a consensus among the Governors that what we really needed to develop was a set of internationally benchmarked standards that would hopefully be adopted by the states.
Georgia was a lead state working alongside experts in the development of the Common Core State Standards, and there is a great alignment between the pre-Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and the current Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. Georgia adopted the Standards for kindergarten through high school in English/Language Arts and Mathematics on July 8, 2010. Today, 44 other states, the District of Columbia, and 2 territories, along with the Department of Defense Education Activity, have recognized the power of these state-developed standards and have also adopted them.
What is Common Core:
• Common Core is NOT a curriculum (a directive of how a teacher teaches, what students must learn each day, or the materials students and teachers must use), but a set of standards (common proficiency targets).
• Common Core ONLY exists in mathematics and language arts.
• Common Core does NOT involve science, history, social studies.
• Common Core State Standards, as well as all education standards for Georgia, are approved by the State Board of Education.
• Any changes to the already approved standards would have to be approved by our State Board of Education through a public comment and open meeting process.
• Any additions of new subjects to Common Core Georgia Performance Standards would have to be approved by our State Board of Education through a public comment and open meeting process.
Why are Common Core State Standards important to Georgia?
- Common Core allows for states, and more importantly teachers and parents, to take advantage of economies of scale. Having shared standards with other states in mathematics and language arts will allow teachers to share resources around the country, rather than just around the county. Furthermore, using Common Core State Standards allows Georgia to push textbook manufacturers and digital content developers to produce the materials that we need to ensure our students are successful. For too long, states like Texas and California have controlled the textbook market, because they had the largest student populations. Being a part of Common Core allows Georgia to be the one in the driver’s seat.
- The Common Core State Standards represent an important economic development tool for Georgia. A critical component for attracting business and creating jobs is to ensure that there is a workforce that is educated and skilled. The Common Core State Standards ensure that Georgia students will be prepared to compete in an increasingly global marketplace and they are benchmarked to national and international standards for college- and career readiness. The standards were designed with particular emphasis on critical thinking, research skills and applying knowledge to real-world situations.
There is no hidden agenda in setting high expectations for all students, regardless of their zip code. Common Core doesn’t mean that everyone has the exact same curriculum – it simply provides more rigor and ensures that, for example, 3rd graders in Georgia are generally learning the same concepts as 3rd graders in any other state so that our education system doesn’t put us at a competitive disadvantage. The complete set of Common Core State Standards for Georgia, as well as resources for teachers, parents, and students, are available here.
Martha Zoller’s ZPolitics Takeaway: Over the next weeks and months, we’ll be looking at all sides of Common Core. The Superintendent says these standards will be implemented locally and no data will be shared or collected on students. Many folks I talk to don’t buy that. But to be sure, you’ll get the full story here. What do you think? Comment below.