In the wake of the National Education Association’s (NEA) decision to support the Common Core State Standards yet urge changes in the initiative’s “implementation,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) called for a slowdown of a new teacher evaluation program in his state that ties teacher performance ratings to students’ scores on the new Common Core-aligned assessments.
The move showcases the current language among more state leaders, education officials, and teachers’ unions which features criticism of the “implementation” or “roll-out” of the Common Core standards while being careful to still be supportive of the standards themselves. It is expected that more states will follow suit by delaying plans that tie teacher evaluations to the standards in order to pacify teachers’ unions yet still voice support for the actual standards.
According to the Hartford Courant, Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D), House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D), and Senate President Donald Williams (D) wrote a letter to an advisory council in which they expressed concern about the protests from teachers and administrators regarding the swift changes taking place in schools due to implementation of the Common Core standards.
The advisory council, which is the organization that created the new teacher evaluation system, includes teachers’ union leaders, administrators, and state officials.
“Since the beginning of the school year, we have heard from teachers and administrators voicing their concerns that too much change is hitting their classrooms at once,” Malloy and the Democrat leaders wrote. “This confluence of changes jeopardizes the success of our teachers, and thus our students. Too much change all at once impedes teachers’ ability to be effective in their classrooms.”
The Democrat leaders called for greater flexibility and the delay of the aspect of the new teacher evaluation system that links teachers’ performance ratings to students’ test scores on the Common Core assessments.
Malloy, known for his cozy relationship with teachers’ unions, said he would also create a working group to make changes in the implementation of the new standards and table a plan to spend $1 million to market the Common Core standards.
If the advisory council agrees to make changes to the teacher evaluation guidelines, the State Board of Education must give final approval.
“These are among the issues that teachers and administrators most frequently cited as being the sources of concern and anxiety,” Pryor said.
Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), said, “The overwhelming feeling is that the implementation [of the Common Core State Standards] is just not going well at all.”
State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor, however, said he feels “very strongly about the value of the Common Core standards… it would be a tragedy for the state if we backed off.”
The State Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010, although Connecticut was not awarded any federal Race To The Top funding to implement them.
Republican lawmakers raised concerns about the fact that the state legislature was not involved in the decision to adopt the Common Core standards, but Taylor said the State Board of Education has been adopting academic standards for decades without the involvement of lawmakers.
“Somehow the Common Core has become the whipping boy for everything that people are unhappy with in education,” Taylor said.
State Rep. Andy Fleischmann (D) said the “overwhelming evidence shows that it makes sense to bring this additional rigor” of the Common Core to the state educational system.
State Sen. Williams said he believes the Common Core standards are sound. Any legislation to undo the Common Core, he said, would be “over-broad and unwise.”
Some parents in Connecticut, however, are not convinced that a mere “delay” or “slowdown” in teacher evaluations linked to the standards is what is needed.
Terry Dickinson is a parent from East Haddam, Connecticut who is co-founder of Hear Our Voice, a group of parents that formed when they received no response to their concerns from the local Board of Education.
“We want Common Core cancelled prior to the election,” Dickinson told Breitbart News. “The standards should not be used as a political ploy to gain votes. Our students and teachers are not political pawns.”
“We’re continuing our course since this state’s administration has a way of flip-flopping over and over again on issues,” Dickinson continued. “Until it is absolutely repealed we will continue on.”
Dickinson’s group has participated in planning a state-wide forum on the Common Core standards on Saturday, February 22nd.
Dickinson’s group’s greatest concerns about Common Core are the lowering of the Math standards, the mining of students’ private information, and the lack of ample training provided to teachers in order to fully understand the new standards. In addition, parents are frustrated with a lack of consideration given to children with special needs who require individualized education plans (IEPs).
“We took our concerns about the data mining to state Sen. Art Linares (R) with no response,” said Dickinson. “We have also spoken to state Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R) who is a parent in our school district. Ziobron is now starting to ask questions and gather data, and says she will attend our event on February 22nd.”
Dickinson said the notion that the Common Core standards are “rigorous” is nothing more than “buzz words.”
“My son is taking the same class my daughter took three years ago and he is doing half the work she did,” she told Breitbart News. “He has no book and instead of reports, draws posters. The bar has been lowered so everyone can be the same.”
“Supporters are hitting all the buzz words that parents want to hear, but this is an unproven initiative,” Dickinson added. “The students are not using their creativity or individuality. Students are not allowed to think outside the box. We will lose our Steve Jobs, Henry Fords, and other great Americans who were allowed to think independently.”