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Governor puts $$$ behind effort to make Common Core succeed

There’s probably an office in Hartford somewhere where the reports of the state’s countless task forces are gathering dust. Not so with the final report and recommendations—released today—from the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force.

“This may be the first state task force to be instantly funded,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who established the task force in March.

Calling his funding and response to the recommendations “quick and deliberate action” to improve support for teachers and ensure that students succeed, Governor Malloy pledged to allocate about $5 million of the current budget of the State Department of Education to areas recommended by the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force. The governor will also ask the State Bond Commission to authorize an additional $10 million to prioritize school technology upgrades to support transition to the new Common Core standards.

Governor Malloy also said today his administration will continue a dialogue with parents, teachers, administrators, and students as districts work to implement the Common Core State Standards. The specific actions released today are contained in Governor Malloy’s Connecticut Core Initiative.

The governor’s program is described as an ongoing effort to identify and address challenges with the Common Core.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We are grateful to the teachers who spent countless hours working on the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force, gathering information, and developing recommendations around key areas of concern—areas identified by educators on the front lines of public education. These areas include the time, support, materials, and professional learning and training opportunities that must be made available to Connecticut educators.”

Cohen continued, “While the recommendations are a positive first step, we recognize that much more work is needed to successfully implement the standards in our state. It is imperative that educators are front and center in continuing to develop specific approaches and strategies to successfully implement the Connecticut Core recommendations that can make a real difference in the classroom and improve student growth and achievement. Given the Governor’s commitment to these specific goals and his promise of having future open dialogues on all aspects of the Common Core State Standards, I’m confident we can move forward together to maintain the high standards we have for all Connecticut public school students.”

In March, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce was asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools, and school districts across the state and nation.

Juanita Harris, a Danbury school counselor and teacher, was a member of the task force. She emphasized that the group’s charge was specific, and there are additional public school issues that need to be addressed including Smarter Balanced testing and the state teacher evaluation system. Harris called the report and recommendations released today “a good collaborative document and one of its highlights is a commitment to ongoing dialogue and a role for teachers in school reform.”

Elizabeth Misiewicz, a Ridgefield teacher, said she is hopeful that the report will be well received. Diana Burns, a Westbook teacher, described the task force report as “excellent, showing lots of thoughtfulness and collaboration.”

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  3. mmjjbb #

    At today’s educational press conference, the Governor’s office and the State Department of Education accepted and praised the report submitted by the Educator’s Common Core Implementation Task Force which, as charged, proposed a series of recommendations for moving forward with educational reforms associated with the ill-conceived Common Core curricular alignment, unproven and undeveloped high stakes testing regimen, and unprotected data storage systems of private and confidential student and family information.

    This Task Force was established by Executive Order in March 2014 on the eve of a legislative hearing on the Common Core in order to take control of a spiraling downward education reform agenda and give the impression that classroom teachers were being consulted in the conversation. The hand-picked members of the Task Force – we were led to believe – represented a cross-section of educators across the State who had been recommended by major stakeholders, such as the CEA and AFT, CAPSS, CAS, CASA, CABE, and the PTA to name some. Of these groups, many had already wholeheartedly endorsed the Common Core initiative and represented at least half of the Task Force committee. Of the twelve teacher stakeholders on the twenty-five person task force, many came from identified Alliance Districts which had already received financial support from the SDE to have started curricular alignment to standards several years earlier. The attempt to mislead the public that the Task Force was a fair and balanced representation of teachers is definitely not as honest and forthright as portrayed.

    The biggest problem with the Task Force is that its mission as delineated by the Governor’s Executive Order has been purposefully flawed since inception. Despite polite, seemingly transparent, and respectful discussions and negotiations, the real issues associated with the Common Core education reform movement were kept from discussion.

    There was no discussion as to whether

    1) CCSS represented sound educational policy (that was simply accepted on faith),
    2) CCSS were developmentally appropriate (as they were designed top down to establish career and college readiness),
    3) continuous computer-driven tests were proven or worthwhile (let alone created with student interests as a priority),
    4) teacher evaluations based on student test scores were valid indicators (of anything at all),
    5) student private test record and family data would remain confidential and protected, and
    6) tax dollars ear-marked for public schools would reach their intended local districts.

    Instead, the Task Force focused on what was needed to improve implementation of educational reforms which had been forced on local school districts via federal mandates through waivers upon threat of noncompliance with unrealistic No Child Left Behind expectations. As a result, the Task Force did its job – it bought some time and it gave the impression that CT’s public school teachers supported and agreed to a revised CCSS implementation schedule. Meanwhile, whether the education reform agenda represented research-based, best practices in teaching was never reviewed, discussed, or vetted publicly, or even considered, thereby ensuring that experts in the field of education and developmental psychology were unable to weigh in.

    As the Common Core initiative has moved closer to implementation, there has been a great deal of “push back” from teachers, principals, and some superintendents. Their message of concern has been slow to receive media recognition as the major media outlets have been united behind the reform movement as have most influential, wealthy investors in education. As Rupert Murdoch stated in 2010 when he purchased the Wireless Generation, Inc.(which has since been re-launched as Amplify Education network): “Education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector ‘waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching'”, commonly paraphrased as “waiting to be exploited”.

    Does anyone else have a problem with this? What is the point of implementing bad policy? Will there ever be any honest discussion on this topic?

    John Bestor
    School Psychologist

    June 26, 2014
  4. Morgan Hanna #

    The task force worked well bringing to light that collaboration, time, and training are characteristics for the successful implementation of any new initiative. It is important for CEA members, parents, and CT communities, to realize that the scope of the task force was narrow and that the Validity of the Common Core has not addressed by this committee. The Common Core’s validity must be vetted by the people of CT in light of the new information about who funded and developed the common core and for what purpose. The best evidence of this outstanding concern is supported by the chair of these meetings starting most meetings if not all of them by stating in a warning tone that the Validity of the Core could not be discussed by the task force members. The participants continually were concerned if they would be disciplined for discussing anything related to this topic. The Common Core will not see success in CT if the communities view it as illegitimate. Unfortunately this major concern could have been addressed by the task force but we can only hope for this discussion to occur in the next year.

    June 26, 2014

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