As the Common Core debate heats up, we’ve heard a lot from policy makers, politicians, and even TV talk show hosts about the challenges posed by the new standards and whether they’ll help or hurt education. With all the chatter, the voices of the professionals who are actually responsible for implementing the Common Core have been all but drowned out in the mainstream media.

To get their perspective, NEA Today convened a panel of educators from around the country who were attending NEA’s Common Core Working Group in Denver, Colorado – a strategy- and ideas-sharing meeting of education professionals from the 46 states who have adopted Common Core. (Find out more about NEA’s involvement in the Common Core.) They told us there’s a lot of anxiety among educators about the Common Core, and a lot of unanswered questions. How do we best implement them? How do we train more teachers? How do we help students master the new content? And what about testing?

But despite these significant hurdles, the overwhelming consensus of the educators we heard from is that the Common Core will ultimately be good for students and education. Read on for six reasons why.

1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom

“I have problems and hands-on activities that I like my students to experience to help them understand a concept or relationship,” says Cambridge, Massachusetts, high school math teacher Peter Mili. One of his classic activities is taking a rectangular piece of cardboard and asking the students to cut from each corner to make a box. They learn that different sized boxes need different lengths in cuts, and then they fill the boxes with popcorn and measure how much each box can hold.

“I haven’t been able to do that in years because of the push to cover so many things. Time is tight, especially because of all the benchmarks and high-stakes testing,” Mili says. “So I’ve had to put the fun, creative activities aside to work on drill and skill. But the Common Core streamlines content, and with less to cover, I can enrich the experience, which gives my students a greater understanding.”

Mili says a lot of teachers have fun, creative activities stuffed into their closets or desk drawers because they haven’t had the time to use them in the era of NCLB tests and curriculum. He thinks the Common Core will allow those activities to again see the light of day. That’s because the Common Core State Standards are just that — standards and not a prescribed curriculum. They may tell educators what students should be able to do by the end of a grade or course, but it’s up to the educators to figure out how to deliver the instruction.

2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive

When students can explore a concept and really immerse themselves in that content, they emerge with a full understanding that lasts well beyond testing season, says Kisha Davis-Caldwell, a fourth-grade teacher at a Maryland Title 1 elementary school.

“I’ve been faced with the challenge of having to teach roughly 100 math topics over the course of a single year,” says Davis-Caldwell. “The Common Core takes this smorgasbord of topics and removes things from the plate, allowing me to focus on key topics we know will form a clear and a consistent foundation for students.”

Davis-Caldwell’s students used to skim the surface of most mathematical topics, working on them for just a day or two before moving on to the next, whether they’d mastered the first concept or not.

“Students would go to the next concept frustrated, losing confidence and losing ground in the long haul,” she says. “The Common Core allows students to stay on a topic and not only dive deeply into it, but also be able to understand and apply the knowledge to everyday life.”

3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor

The CCSS requires students to take part in their learning and to think more critically about content, as opposed to simply regurgitating back what their teachers feed them, says Kathy Powers, who teaches fifth- and sixth-grade English Language Arts in Conway, Arkansas.

One way Powers says the standards ratchet up the rigor is by requiring more nonfiction texts to be included in lessons on works of fiction, and vice versa.

She uses Abraham Lincoln as an example.

A lesson could start with “O Captain! My Captain!”, the extended metaphor poem written by Walt Whitman about the death of Lincoln, and incorporate the historical novel Assassin, which includes a fictional character in the plot. Then she’d follow that with the nonfiction work, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, and have students also look at newspaper clippings from the time.

“Or if we’re working on narrative writing, I can have them read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and ask them not to just absorb the story, but also to evaluate C.S. Lewis as a writer, and then to try to write a piece of narrative in the style of C.S. Lewis,” she says. “In the past we’d ask them to simply write a story. But this requires more critical thinking, and this kind of increased rigor will make students more competitive on a global level.”

4. Common Core is Collaborative

The Common Core allows educators to take ownership of the curriculum — it puts it back into the hands of teachers, who know what information is best for students and how best to deliver that information.

“Not only does it integrate instruction with other disciplines, like English and social studies, or literacy, math, and science, the common standards will allow us to crowd source our knowledge and experience,” says Kathy Powers of Arkansas.

Kisha Davis-Caldwell agrees. “The Common Core will create opportunities to share resources and create common resources,” she says. “We can discuss what isn’t working and use our voices collectively. That way we can all be part of the conversation about assessment of teaching, learning, and the standards themselves.”

Peter Mili says the key word to focus on is “common.” He believes there is far too much academic variability from state to state and not enough collaboration. With the Common Core State Standards, “the good things that may be happening in Alabama can be shared and found useful to educators in Arizona because they are working on the same topics.”

5. Common Core Advances Equity

Cheryl Mosier, an Earth Science teacher from Colorado, says she’s most excited about the Common Core because it’ll be a challenge for all students, not just the high achieving students, which Mosier and her colleagues say will go a long way to closing achievement and opportunity gaps for poor and minority children. If students from all parts of the country — affluent, rural, low-income or urban — are being held to the same rigorous standards, it promotes equity in the quality of education and the level of achievement gained.

“With the Common Core, we’re not going to have pockets of really high performing kids in one area compared to another area where kids aren’t working on the same level,” she says “Everybody is going to have a high bar to meet, but it’s a bar that can be met with support from – and for — all teachers.”

Davis-Caldwell’s Title 1 school is in a Washington, D.C., suburb. In the D.C. metro area, like in other areas in and around our nation’s cities, there is a high rate of mobility among the poorest residents. Students regularly move from town to town, county to county, or even state to state – often in the middle of the school year.

There has been no alignment from state to state on what’s being taught, so when a fourth-grade student learning geometry and fractions in the first quarter of the school year suddenly moves to Kansas in the second quarter, he may have entirely different lessons to learn and be tested on.

It also helps teachers better serve their students, says Davis-Caldwell. When teachers in one grade level focus consistently and comprehensively on the most critical and fundamental concepts, their students move on to the next grade level able to build on that solid foundation rather than reviewing what should have been learned in the previous grade.

6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready

“One of the broad goals is that the increased rigor of the Common Core will help everyone become college and/or career ready,” says Peter Mili. Preparing kids for college and careers will appeal widely to parents and the community, especially in a struggling economy where only 31 percent of eleventh graders were considered “college ready,” according to a recent ACT study.

If a student who was taught how to think critically and how to read texts for information and analysis can explain the premise behind a mathematical thesis, she’ll have options and opportunities, Mili says. Students with that kind of education will be able to decide what kind of career path to follow or whether they want to attend a university or any kind of school because they were prepared to do a higher level of work that is expected in our society and our economy.

Student success is the outcome every education professional works so tirelessly toward, and the Common Core will help them get there if it’s implemented well, according to the panel of educators.

“Yes, it’s an extra workload as a teacher, and it’s difficult…but it’s for the betterment of the students,” says Davis-Caldwell. “And if we keep that our focus, I don’t see why we can’t be successful.”

Related Post:
Ten Things You Should Know About the Common Core

NEA President Van Roekel: We Need a Course Correction on Common Core

Find Common Core resources on NEA Today’s Pinterest Board and at

  • Paul Durham

    Lots of nice words here. Just words. I need to see all of this in action. I need to see how all of this will be graded. It sounds like a lot of the grades will have to come from “judgement” of the teacher. How does this fit in with high stakes testing?
    I am really surprised NEA backs Common Core knowing that it is a vast experiment. No place, no where, at any time has used common core before states adopted it. Where is the research on common core? Where is the “agreement” on what each component means? AND where are the main architects of this “curriculum”? Why are they no where to be found? Shouldn’t they be going from state to state to advise on what it all means by breaking it all down?
    I dont mind a concept like common core. BUT how will it work with all states interpreting it differently?
    I just hope its all worked out before we graduate the guinea pigs well call our present students.

  • Chris Champion

    I echo Paul’s concern. The article even mentions the narrowing of curricula – or at least that which will be tested. When funding and teacher evaluations are tied to CCSS-based evaluation, narrowing of what is “required” can lead to narrowing of what is taught. While this isn’t as likely to happen at schools with affluent students (and good test scores), there is no doubt in my mind that schools already “failing” will eliminate all but the “core”, producing students as rounded as the sheet of paper they take the test on.

  • Mario Minichino

    One of the fallacies being put forth by advocates of common core is that teachers will have an easier time teaching fewer topics. The content that will need to be taught in the classroom will undoubtedly be driven by the assessment vehicles adopted by the various states. Since PARCC and SBAC are creating assessment vehicles to determine the effectiveness of student achievement, teachers will quickly revert to “teaching to the test” in order to maintain their own evaluation and pass rates. Make no mistake about CCSSI, it is an ill-conceived, rapidly constructed, standardization of content that will be driven by assessment.

    As for the voluntary adoption, again that is a myth since requirements for RTTT grants required adoption of an internationally recognized curriculum. Surprisingly the only one available at the time was CCSSI, a hastily concocted assemblage of standards by David Coleman and Achieve Inc. CCSSI is not as presented, the work of a vast sector of educators, but the work of Achieve and the now head of the College Board. While teachers and teacher educators were consulted during the construction phase, the standards were developed and released without a full vetting or an open comment period. Despite as Paul correctly stated above, that there are no research studies extant that examine the effect of these core standards on student achievement, we are rushing forward to implement them regardless of their effect. Wholesale adoption of untried standards imposed upon students with no prior exposure and teachers trained under different pedagogic concepts makes little sense. If, and only if, the adoption of the standards will help students be better prepared for college and careers, and this can be definitively proven to be statistically significantly different than existing models, should we even think about adopting CCSSI. Even then it should be done incrementally and with full training of both in-service and pre-service teachers, a pilot study to examine the efficacy of the standards, and reexamination of the standards and assessment vehicles before, as Diane Ravitch said, we make guinea pigs out of our students.

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  • Susan Keeney

    Teachers from around the country DO NOT agree, NEA! The other commentators above have touched on many of the fallacies and PC rhetoric that NEA has printed in this article.

    The bullet point on “equity” touches on one of the few good ideas of Common Core — that there will be more consistency in what is taught across the nation. But this is not the important sort of “equity”.

    The only kind of equity that will truly help our poor and disadvantaged students isn’t tweaking the curriculum with Common Core. Our nation needs to think about supporting children, families and schools in meaningful and equitable ways, like so many other developed nations routinely do. Equitable access to things like health care, mental health services, day-care, pre-school are all essential for families and children to thrive. Qualified nurses, counsellors, librarians and custodians should be available at all schools. Class sizes need to be reasonable so that all children’s needs can be met. Every child should have a clean, usable desk, access to a computer, and a clean bathroom to go to. Every child should have all the school supplies needed. That would be the kind of “equity” that would bring real change in our country’s educational results. Support children, support families, and support schools.

    As an example of this, Finland started to focus on this type of equity several decades ago. And what happened? Academic excellence, amongst other things. America is heading down the wrong road with Common Core, and I’m shocked that the NEA seems to support it.

  • Josh

    I agree with Paul. It sounds like one big experiment that could go either way, like so many educational experiments before it. I love the jargon, though!

  • K Laufer

    I would like to see folks recognize the negative affects of the common core on special education students, particularly those with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities (IQ range 70-55). Their curriculum has changed radically away from functional/useful. Students have great difficulty processing, remembering, sequencing and understanding abstract concepts, such as the quadratic functions and geometric sequences in the common core. When faced with mixed problems in different formats, and word problems, the students struggle and feel ashamed. It is wrong to make them endure this curriculum’s assessments in their current form. It needs to be modified to allow these students to be successful, even if that means only changing their tests, not the content of the curriculum.

  • Heidi

    I agree with much that has been state. I reviewed this article to see if something could help me change my mind but after a year of teaching the mathematics core at a high school it is so weak. And once concepts become abstract the hands on doesn’t work. And I doubt that any assessment will ever give students a cardboard sheet and ask them to find the dimensions to maximize the volume. Also is this way of teaching going to be the way college professor’s teach. My understand is that high school is for most students to prepare them for some future education. So David Coleman and collegues have some work to do to get it into university curriculum.

  • Carol

    This is just another reason why our enrollment is down and home school co-op enrollment is going up quickly.

  • Jacques Francois

    Sorry NEA, you are totally disconnected with how most “in the trench” teachers” view the CCSS. The posters above have given a few details of the criticisms we have.

    Your continuous cheerleading for the “master narratives” of Duncan, Gates, Bloomberg, et al, and their corporate driven “ed-reform” policies make your goals as a supposedly non-partisan, educational news clearinghouse and resource, suspect to say the least.

  • Karen

    This article was a classic piece of edubabble! There is nothing good about this “new and improved” way to continue the dumbing down of American education. I am retired from education, and I’ve always been a huge proponent of public education, but if I had children of school age today, I’d send them to private school or home school them to save them from this type of education. The NEA is not working for anything other than union dues.

  • joe koniushesky

    i can’t believe the nea is supporting he common core of b.s…i am very disappoined with their liberal socialistic ideas.if i were not retired i would look to withdraw and look elsewhere.our state affiliate (ct.) is no better. they need to start listening to their constituents.

  • David Kalach

    I disappointed in the NEA’s position regarding the common core. The common core will promote high stakes testing that is leading to more corporate influence in education. It is narrowing the curriculum across the country and allowing corporate types like Gates, Bloomberg, Broad, and others highjack public education. The NEA should come out strongly against Obama and Duncan’s educational program. Its time to stand up for students and teachers across the country. Race to the Top is worse the NCLB.

  • Karen Hamstrom

    Exactly, lots of nice words but where is the money to back it up? We’re still using dumbed down Language Arts curriculum materials applicable to the old California standards due to budgetary constraints. Our math books are falling apart. No new adoptions are on the horizon. Since our curriculum is so out of date teachers are being told that THEY will have to write curriculum based on Common Core standards. Since when are teachers being paid to teach AND write curriculum? As an elementary teacher, how many curriculums will I have to write? Reading, writing, math, science, social studies? Common Core is like everything else from the federal government, a mandate with no money to support it.

  • Ken Haines

    Every discipline should be in the process of establishing such standards.

  • Dawn Tonneman

    My question regarding common core is what about the Gifted students? Increasing the rigor for everyone with the idea of creating educational equality not only hurts students with disabilities, it also hurts the gifted students. Have we come up with a way to engage these children, or is this going to be left up to the individual teachers to differentiate appropriatly to meet their needs as well? I truly wonder if Common Core will be everything it was dreamt up to be.

  • VBall

    My assistant superintendent came in last week for our staff meeting to give us a little insight to this new common core mania and this final “product” they want is for us teachers to assess all of our students as if they were all honors or AP students. I worry a lot for my lower kids who needs things to be simplified because I know they will just give up if they have to read a problem with many terminologies, apply what they learned, and draw a valid conclusion by explaining with reasoning. My A.S. finished off with a statment, “This is an exciting time to be in education”. I’m not sure everybody at the meeting agreed.

  • K Klein

    I am an NEA/NYSUT member and I could not be more angry at this sellout of our profession and our children/students.


    Although I guess the ultimate result will just be a bunch of “toadies” and uninspired teachers left in our classrooms who will just “go along” like the Nazi prison guards and doctors.

    And I don’t use this comparison lightly.

  • Ellen

    I have lost all faith in my union. NEA is a shameless panderer of propaganda and has totally sold out its constituency.

  • Chris

    NEA, you blew it with your choice of political candidates and you are blowing it with this. Before you start saying how teachers are all on board and in support of someone or something, maybe you should poll the members. I have never been asked my thoughts concerning a political candidate or any of the initiatives NEA has supported over the years. Spend some time polling your members and maybe you’ll learn something. Common Core gives all the authority to the Federal Government (and we know what a mess they make of things!) and take it away from the local authorities. I am tired of being told someone in Washington knows what is better for me, my family and my students. Lets get back to making the students the priority and listening to all the teachers in the classroom. Let’s put the responsibility of raising kids back on the parents and let’s teach our kids to take responsibility for their education.

  • J C
  • Jim Lindsey

    THIS is why I am considering dropping out of the NEA, State, and local – You people are as bad as the politicians! By the way, when we are submitting comments, it says “Enter the code shown below” – the code is ABOVE, and the place to enter it is to the left – there is NOTHING below!!

  • Jennifer

    Who benefit$ from Common Core??? Pear$son Publi$shing Company.

    Sorry, I’m not drinking the Common Core Kool-Aid that is being served to the politicians, and forced on our children.

  • J. Marie

    It does it seem to be a dumbing down of our kids. We need a more European format for our schools. They attend half a day on Saturday and Summer vacation is usually on a month. We need to expand the hours our children attend school, keep our classrooms small as well as smaller school districts. No more force passing to get federal monies for the students. And believing every child should be prepped for college is unrealistic. The child with the 50-75 IQ is never going to get in or succeed in college, we need more vocational schools. Also the government should use high tax rates on businesses who use manufacturing outside the US and encourage them to return here to have jobs for the kids who can’t or are not able to go to college.

  • Paul

    24 responses, 23 of them negative. Are you listening, NEA?

  • cospelero

    NEA should be ashamed for its complicity in foisting CCSSI on American schoolchildren and claiming that “teachers support” it. That is a BIG LIE!

  • Sergio Flores

    Who is Cindy Long? Why are her unsubstantiated predictions published by NEA? I hope during the NEA-RA the general assembly demands NEA to stop this unwarranted promotion of CCSS! Not one of the “positives” of the CCSS mentioned in this piece of propaganda can be supported by facts or evidence. Who is responsible in NEA for validating CCSS?

  • TeachWA

    Do we pay union dues to have you represent us or to carry water for Gates and Pearson? It’s time to organize, everyone. Our union has sold us out.

  • One NH Teacher

    Is there any other profession where so many OUTSIDE of the profession have so much sway and impact WITHIN the profession?? We lost rigor and our world standings when we opened the door to these dingbats and wingdings with their perennial latest political, economic, and social agendas and dictates that are destroying the very thing they are claiming to be saving. America’s backbone and future is dependent upon its public education system. Let teachers teach and let supervisors guide them when needed. I don’t know of many teachers in the profession who don’t want absolutely the best for their students and take absolute pride in what they do.

    • Dee Marie

      But….so many do a poor job teaching…You may be teachers, but as a Human Resources professional filling jobs…I can say, we are doing a lousy job, even with the best and brightest, who come with family support. Sorry…teachers….Your not preparing kids for the real world. Common Core is a chance to do that. It’s the employers that are ultimately who you are trying to please! Lest you all forget!

  • Terry Waltz, Ph.D.

    You’re kidding, right? Please tell me it’s April 1 and I’ve overslept.

  • Mr. E

    I am a HS teacher w/ 15 yrs experience trying to implement CC in our class, and I wish that I could agree with all the talking points listed above- I have worked harder as a teacher this year than I can ever remember, and while this can be a good thing, it falls short when I see my colleagues, co-workers, and myself stressed out to the breaking point and experiencing anxiety on levels I have never seen before. Something is very wrong when teachers are crying in the halls, and this is to me the most poignant indicator that the implementation of this new methodology evokes a steamroller rather than the intellectual forethought that supposedly went into it.

    In addition to the CC implementation, we have new evaluation standards, new Prof Dev., and about 3 other major programs going through our system. I have trouble sleeping, cannot seem to stop thinking about school, cannot leave my stress behind, and have noticed that these things are taking a toll on my wife and two kids. Our heads are reeling, and some have rolled.

    I keep thinking of the many mass extinctions that have occurred in our Earth’s history….if you change things too much, too fast, the inhabitants cannot keep up and they become extinct. Is it just sad that we people are doing it to ourselves and our kids.

    I do believe that education needs to change, and see some positive effects of Common Core at my kids grade school level. It just seems like for most of the higher grades, we are putting a new coat of paint on bad wood when we need to fix the structure first.

  • Maria Schrenger

    I hate to sound unkind, but what planet does Cindy Long (the author of this article) live on? I think the common core is absolutely horrible!!!!! I teach first grade (and have been teaching for 22 years). Have you ever read the reading and writing standards for first grade? Most of them are NOT developmentally appropriate at all. Much of the math is beyond ridiculous too! I truly think it’s criminal, a sin and a real shame that we all are supposed to keep trying to “shove information” down little kids’ throats, that they are really not ready for yet. We are causing so much stress in young children. I really believe that we are damaging the emotional development of our young students and making them hate “learning” and hate school. I also think that this is why we are seeing such a rise in serious behavior issues and especially in the young!
    I’ve been a member of NEA for 22 years, but I am extremely disappointed with Dennis Van Roekel (President of NEA) and also of Randi Weingarten (President of the AFT). They have both “sold out” to Arne Duncan and to all who like, want and promote charter schools. They both need to step down. We, the members of NEA and AFT need “fire” both of these charlatans. We need real leadership. This is a horrible time in our culture to be a public school teacher or a public school student. Our current day “educational curriculum” is destroying many of our precious children because we are setting so many students up for failure!!!!

  • Katie Stell

    Grouchy bunch of commenters! I hope my kids don’t ever have any of you for a teacher. I’m perfectly happy implementing common core and like the results I’ve seen so far.

  • cospelero

    “With all the chatter, the voices of the professionals who are actually responsible for implementing the Common Core has been all but drowned out in the mainstream media.”

    The voices HAS been drowned out? Is this supposed to be an educator?

  • Nate

    When is the NEA going to publish the “100’s of Ways the Common Core is Horrible for Education” article?

  • Lucie burns

    Has the NEA been bought?
    I don’t know any teachers supporting CCSS or RttT
    I am glad to be retiring
    Sad for the students and teachers left behind

  • Jim Perkins

    I am discouraged by the NEA pitch but I am also discouraged by colleagues who act as if this is accurately characterized as a partisan and/or ideologic wedge. If we have a hope of finding a common way out of this morass, it is unlikely that it will be accomplished by railing at “socialist”, “AynRandian”, “neo-fascist”, “right-wing/left-wing government-hating anarchists”.

    We who teach and those whom we teach are not widgets. We teach children.

    If we manufacture widgets, we can have quality control by repeated measuring and tweaking of the production line. Each widget is supposed to be as identical as is possible. No widget has a mind to be numbed. No widget is capable of rebelling against the measurement or doing poorly because its parents had a bad night or because it’s hungry. No widget is capable of doing well because it has good genes or a thriving and vibrant home-life. Widgets don’t eat, they don’t have genes, they don’t have homes or parents. Widgets are inert. Each widget is formed as identically as possible.

    A single cohort of the children we teach may have an average value on any measurement, but on every single measurement there is a distribution, usually fairly normal (in the math sense and in the human sense – it’s normal). The Common Core seeks to impose upon every single child the same standard, just as if they were widgets. This is my fundamental objection.

    My practical objection is this: pick any single item on the long list of math standards that must be met. There’s an argument to be had – is this really a meaningful challenge for every single human being who is fourteen years old? We might indeed decide that some particular thing actually is critical, but if we do, then there is an opportunity cost for the decision that “this particular thing” really is critical. It means something else is not as critical.

    In order to teach every single child the graph of y equals the cube root of x, I will have to acknowledge that the time I take for that with a child for whom it is a significant stretch is time I won’t have for something else. (My professional opinion is that anyone who thinks the graph of y equals the cube root of x – in a meaningful context – is not a significant stretch for a significant part of the population is clueless and does not understand the graph of y equals the cube root of x. I am willing to be proved wrong, but I will insist on rigor not rhetoric.)

    I believe that there should be a burden of proof for the entity that asserts that some topic is essential; on the contrary, the things currently on the Common Core list are someone’s whim.

  • Catherine

    I had not realized until seeing this article that the NEA had sold out to Walton, Gates, Pearson and all the others who want to distort and destroy the American public school system. The bigger question is: who is paying them off.

  • Elinor Austen

    What a lot of rubbish! As a high school English teacher, it is quite clear that the CCSS are a roadblock to true creativity and rigor in the classroom. Put it together with cookie-cutter common assessments and broad changes in grading practices and public education is being driven off a cliff by groupthink and fear. Those who love this? People who have spent nary a day in a real classroom, with real kids. Oh, and follow the money; the Gates Foundation and various for-profit educompanies want to pull power from the innovative, individual teacher. Standardization shuts us up.

  • Suzanne

    Where has all this information been for the last 5 years? Curious as to why suddenly word is getting out when parents and children are knee deep in homework that nobody understands. Also curious as to how all these states came up with these standards when they are below what they were teaching before this started. Who would choose lower standards? Also find the money trail not so funny, but of course they have no idea how much this will cost school districts to buy all the computers, connect to WiFi and replace books. Bill Gates is loving all this, helped him get back on the top richest man list….tax payers…who cares about tax payers? How long until we see the affects of this wonderful change? What are the plans for those who fail?

  • Suzanne

    I am also quite sick of the word of the year RIGOR! When did this become such a popular word? Parrots have learned it in CCSS and the Grit report and keep repeating as if that will make it true. The only Rigorous thing is they way this has been done behind the backs of American parents. You notice not many posts about this until the last few months, because they hid it very well. Nobody was excited about this until they have to defend it..Until now it was just a dirty little secret. The word is out now!

  • greg

    I am a teacher in training, MAT, and will graduate in the summer of 2014. I have been taught in the CCSS process and think that it merits at least a positive concerted effort on the part of educators. It is obvious that NCLB was a flop but the one thing that the instructors, and current teachers, that I have talked with agree upon is that the current standards are nowhere nearly high enough. The CCSS would raise what is currently a 5th grade standard to a 3rd grade standard meaning that more will be expected of our students, and yes, our teachers as well. Change is always a hard thing to accept but I for one believe that we must challenge our students to achieve greater things instead of “dumbing down” the curriculum.

  • http://yahoo! Bev

    K Laufer (May 15th) is spot on for our students with cognitive disabilities, as well as those with severe behavioral or mental health issues. I teach Art in a small Title One public school for students with behavioral issues; many have moderate to severe cognitive impairment as well. Very few of these students live at home with their bio families; they have been shuffled all over the place due to their challenging management and other needs. Although I make standard curriculum such as classical art as exciting as I can and we do have a lot of fun with it, it is fleeting. Classical art and art studies will never hold their interest or have a meaningful or permanent place in my kids’ lives. Many of my students will require life-long adult care. Hands-on projects with clay, mud, sticks, and building with hand tools, power tools, lengths of lumber, huge miter boxes, etc. definitely capture their attention, so that is what we do, joyfully, creatively, safely, and with great satisfaction and success. I incorporate monthly community outreach and volunteerism into our work. I had to pass the dreaded Praxis Art test to receive my certificate endorsement for all of this. I shudder to consider how CC may attempt to impact, alter, or remove the invaluable differentiated instruction required for students such as mine!

  • Greg

    Wow, just Wow. It appears the NEA doesn’t speak for its members on this issue at all. There is almost a total disdain for this article by every person commenting. Not dis-like, disdain. I have never seen a piece draw this much criticism. As I said in my earlier post, stop drinking the Obummer Kool-Aid and start working for students again.

  • Robyn

    Outrageous. How do I get 20 years of union dues back?

  • Sjw

    I agree with all the negative comments. But the article, ironically, suggests a way that teachers can subvert CCSS. Just do your best teaching, the way you’ve always wanted to teach, and for every lesson pull something out of the standards that it addresses. If someone tries to shove a Pearson product down your throat, refuse, saying that the standards don’t say how to teach, just what student goals are. As for the tests, say that you refuse to compromise their integrity by doing test prep. Save this NEA article to prove that you’re supposed to be doing your best teaching, not a.lockstep program. Also, ignore everything David Coleman says because he has no official role or legitimacy.

  • Mike

    This is what a portion of my union dues go toward? Supporting initiatives that harm myself and my colleagues? We have a HIRED consultant running our district in support of the common core initiative. This is draining money away from programs that could use funding.

    How about this idea NEA: push for better funding and a referendum on standardized tests. Support your members in education initiatives that will make a difference for THEIR students. CCSS delves too much into curriculum rather than being the framework that people claim it to be. Different districts need the freedom to address different needs of their students. Common Core doesn’t cut it.

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  • Mary

    MOt many reforms or histakes tests or individual judgements will have much effect overall when the elephant is still in the room. Until more families and parents raise the value of education at home, we are doomed to a culture that is more and more defined byt the attidude that “I send my kid to school so it is your problem.” Coming from increasingly desperate family financial straits, with no hope of a better or decent life, it is hard to motivate those concerned. The dysfuction, lack of parenting and attitudes with which students come to school set up very strong barriers to gaining their attention for and interest in learning. Public education (and some private) has become the blame place for the students low achievemnet. Drug and alcohol cultulres are producing children with differences, sometimes subtle or sometimes not, as well as other learning and physical differences. Sosme areas may even be in the third or fourth generation of chldren who come from these issues with incomplete or different brain connections. These need to be accounted for and treated as such in order to give the best education to all individuals. But that takes a lot of support from home.
    We need “standards of parenting for school success” to be added to our collection of requirements before we blame or judge any school system or any variety of teachers and techniques and plans and goals to be effective or not.

  • Deborha

    Forget the union.I think we’re going to need corporate lawyers

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  • Laurette O’Keefe

    David Coleman is now the president of Interesting. This company is responsible for putting out the PSAT, the SAT, the ACT, and, soon, the PARRC assessments. Ultimately, high school teachers will be sweating the repercussions of this. Is there another company in the USA that creates these “college admission” tests? No. I’ve heard people call the Common Core socialistic; Its administration may be so, but its profits will go primarily to one company, College Board; therefore, we have a monopoly.

  • Thea Mann

    I agree that the STANDARDS appear to be quite good. But this is not how they are being implemented. States are buying canned curriculum created by Pearson, et al, and forcing teachers into scripted lessons. And the real problem is the increased and increasing emphasis on the almighty test.

    Until we have TESTING reform, no magic bullet standards will ever fix what’s wrong. We will still be forced into teaching to the tests. Just a different tests, more of them, and only 15% different from state to state.

    Education should not be a for-profit cash cow.

  • Jennifer Fatone

    I am a teacher and union rep in NY, and I am disgusted by the NEA’s support for Corporate Core. There is no way of extracting any good from CC’s implementation from the standardized testing that goes along with it. CC is rife with developmentally inappropriate content, and it assumes all students have the same needs, interests, and abilities. CC assumes that the professionals – teachers – cannot discern what their students need. It is a monster that continues to grow with the support of the NEA, which is supposed to support TEACHERS, not the corporate agenda of those who seek to profitize American education.

  • Louisiana Purchase

    I don’t understand how a curriculum with extremely specific lists of things students should learn every year is allowing teachers teach “creatively.” Common Core is sham.

    • Doro

      It’s not as specific as you might think. Students don’t have to do things one way, and one way only. Instead, they’re permitted to use any method they’d like to demonstrate their understanding of a concept, whether that means, for math, using numbers, drawing a diagram, a picture, or writing in words. It reaches students who learn in a variety of ways. Louisiana, huh? No worries, your state will catch up to the rest of the country eventually.

  • Susan Nunes

    Unbelievable Bill Gates has basically bought off NEA and AFT in his quest for the ruination of public education.

    There is NOTHING good about Common Core. Nothing. The United States is too large and too diverse for “national standards.” It’s time to bring back local control of public education and return education back to TEACHERS. The billionaires, Wall Street crooks, and their political hacks need to stay out.

  • Atara

    The NEA does not know what they are talking about here. CCSS will not work. The technology requirements can eat a school’s budget leaving nothing left for professional development the teachers will badly need to be able to implement CCSS properly. This is a big big mess. There are lots of problems with this country’s system of education, but a different curriculum to teach to a different test is not the answer.

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  • http://neatoday KR

    I’m glad for our children first, teachers and nation that true educators that have known forever what is needed are speaking out! The powers that be don’t usually ask true opinions of honest educators (not talking heads for an organization) but our public schools are so ineffective due to years of politicians thinking they know what’s best without including educators or parents,that they recently make such overt and ignorant decisions like Common Core, testing-not teaching, creating a sense that special needs(including mentally challenged, autistic and gifted) and different learning styles do not need to be addressed differently so that we decrease the 70% number of students that are not “college ready” or work ready upon graduation. The four or rather 12 years of school, we tell our children they should just take what ever new trend in public education caves of underfunded, dilapidated buildings with educators that are respected less than dogs that have more rights than we do. The powers that be make sure we do not have time to think and be creative or gather to plan meaningful reforms by inundating us with paperwork, threats of losing pay or your job if testing scores aren’t increased, worries about micromanagement and long irrelevant to students progress meetings that survival to make it day to day is the only focus in able to survive. Absenteeism, disabilities and early retirements are another survival tactic to live a longer life. True educators must band together and fight and not give up for the sake of our children and our own mental health-our passion, “our calling”. We don’t want other careers, we spent time and are in debt for loans for a career we have passion for and it has been taken from us law by law, reform by reform, disrespectful children, lack of parenting at home and educational surveys and testing businesses have gotten rich on the backs of our teachers students and parents that have no idea who and what to believe and trust in that’s best for their child anymore. Charter schools aren’t the answer and parents know it but they can’t wait for public education to get it together at the sacrifice of their children’s future. Charters are a bandage on a hemorrhage and a way to segregate schools to increase the number of permanent underclass that will be the worker bees in poverty for the leaders with power that luckily can transport their children to a school without fights everyday (due to anger and neglect) and focus on those that come to school with a full stomach from breakfast, clear head since they don’t have to worry about mom making enough money to support the family or a dangerous neighborhood which keeps them in the house which increases mental and physical health issues that increase problems in the family. We must address the child holistically and address new millennial problems and not sweep them under the rug because it’s uncomfortable to discuss. Our changing population and culture cannot be ignored without all of us reaping the consequences, now or later, but it’s coming to the privileges’s front door no matter how far they move away…

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  • Ragua

    Um…why am I paying you union dues, again? So you can sell us all down the river to your corporate overlords? You do realize that prostitution is illegal in every state except Nevada, right?

  • Keisha Harris

    I find it very fascinating to hear the various opinions about the Common Core. I, myself, am open to implementing it into my classroom. My district is in the beginning stages of training their teachers. But I have already begun researching the standards to help me become better acquainted with the concept. I even wrote a hilarious early chapter book series to lighten up the tension surrounding the Common Core. The book is titled, Beware of the Common Core. The concept of the book was developed behind the notion of “fear of the unknown” and that the core standards shouldn’t be anything to fear, but embrace. I’m looking forward to seeing the changes Common Core will bring about. It can’t make me a worse teacher, only stronger in my craft as I make it work for me and my students.

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  • Stacy Amador

    Wow. I am really shocked to read this article. The information here is an outright lie. Common Core gives teachers more time to be creative? Common Core puts things back in the hands of teachers? Whoever wrote this doesn’t have a clue. I have seen first hand what Common Core does to a classroom as well as individual students because I have two children in grade school. Common Core has put so much pressure on teachers to get the children ready for the standardized testing that becomes all they have time for. This article is totally backwards. My daughter has said to me that she thinks she is stupid because she just doesn’t get the math. She cries and doesn’t want to go to school anymore. She is a very intelligent child. She brings home math papers with check minuses that have all the answers correct!She failed the test/homework because she didn’t draw the bar models correctly. So it makes no difference if she had the right answers. In addition to Common Core hurting our children mentally/developmentally what about the financial aspect? States were in such a rush to get all of that federal money they didn’t stop to read the fine print!! When Common Core deadlines are up the schools will have to have 1 computer per child which is required for all of the testing that you stated was not required! Companies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Intel are behind the funding for Common Core! That’s not a conflict of interest or anything! The millions that they have invested will likely be returned 5 fold when every school district across the country has to purchase a computer for each student! I only hope that as Americans and Parents we all decide to at least take the time to research both sides of this and let common sense prevail!

    • Doro

      Strange, the only complaint about CC is about math, a subject that far too many people (and especially, let’s face it, women) don’t understand. The only parents who complain to me about CC also admit that they’re not very good at math. That’s not the fault of CC, that’s the parents’ fault. I’m going to guess your frustration stems from the fact that you don’t understand the math, therefore you can’t help your daughter with it. Your daughter can’t just write down the answers — she must be able to demonstrate that she understands the concepts. I’m sorry that neither she nor you are bright enough to do either, but you can use your freedom to hire a tutor –for both of you.

  • http://ilililik jay

    This is a BS system that does nothing but dumb down America. Call me what you want but this is all planned to keep control of America. Keep us dumb enough to were the government can control us

    • freeman


      Looks like they didn’t even need Common Core to get to you.

  • Steinar Johansen

    Check where we are internationally and see how we keep falling behind. Tutoring two A students who are follow the old procedural way of teaching are not A student. Every time I ask them to explain why they do not have any answers. I give them a formula and the numbers and they can tweak it is all direction because they know a procedure for it. When I ask then why or give them any challenges they get lost immediately.
    Common core is absolutely the right way to go. It gives me as a future teacher the opportunity to teach into the depth instead of just offering recipes on how to solve a problem. One post talked about how his daughter all for a sudden feel stupid in math. That is because the kid do not understand math and she is not going to be college ready if she is not able to understand the concept behind math. Lets all support Common core. If your kid feel stupid it is because they are and they need to study more. When they understand the concept they will do fine. Have a good common core implementation in your school district

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  • Felicia

    As a middle school math teacher who is in the process of implementing Common Core standards, I am seeing first hand this is exactly the right approach for our young students. The Core allows for in-depth study of math concepts, collaborative work on the part of students, and solving real world math problems. There is less emphasis on only process and more on creative problem solving and rigor. Students are responding and learning at much higher levels than with old school lessons. I am in an average small community where traditional methods were leaving students behind. This is a breath of fresh air. Students are enjoying math and learning so much more. Because the Common Core scales back the number of topics for each level, it allows for a more in-depth approach with a great deal of creativity and flexibility on the part of teachers. Why would you want to keep a curriculum that is rooted in the 1950s for our 21st century kids? I admit there is an overemphasis on standardized testing, but that is not because of Common Core. Common Core is the framework for building your curriculum. Standardized tests are a separate issue. They have been part of education forever, no matter what curriculum a district chooses. If you want to get mad about something, get mad about standardized testing and the disservice this does to our students.

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  • Megan

    Dear Editor,
    The modern idea known as “Common Core”is a shabby scam. This article states the positive effects Common Core has had on the educational environment grades one through twelve are exposed to . One of the main points I came across was,”Common Core puts creativity back into the classrooms.” I myself attend a high school where Common Core curriculum is currently taught. My fellow classmates and I are taught an unreasonable amount of material in less than 30 weeks. Meaning, this doesn’t leave time for creativity in the class room. Common Core is a one-type-taught policy. This meaning that every student is taught, and learns exactly the same. High schools across America require a certain amount of credits, in each subject to graduate. This prohibits students from excelling in certain areas they have potential to achieve in dramatically. Another main point I came across was that, “the challenge of Common Core is good for students.” I have learned that the so called “challenge” consist of learning material that I will soon forget in the next year. Common Core is putting chains on the mind of students, and teaching material that is invaluable in many cases. Students should be allowed to choose their own educational routes without state standards telling students step-by-step what path they are to follow. I propose students should be exposed to an education system that teaches life-long-skills needed in the real world. Students should have the open option to pick and choose their own classes that will be beneficial to them throughout their years of studies, and life.

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  • Shelley Burgess

    Well, I do not know WHY asking a child to dig deeper and UNDERSTAND what they are reading and writing is “dummying down” education …. REALLY??

    The standards are JUST THAT! I get to decided what literature/nonfiction to teach and HOW to teach it. I am not being MANDATED to teach any specific TOPIC or CONTENT that tells my kids HOW to view a specific political view … however it IS ALLOWING me to teach BOTH sides of a political view that a TEXT BOOK does not allow, and provide my students RESEARCHED BASED knowledge to make up their own mind!! (ex – Christopher Columbus) Seriously people … get a grip and do your
    OWN research – stop listening to everyone that is so freakin’ negative about CC …. It means more work for teachers to develop units that allow students to DISCOVER the world they live in … I think THAT is the real problem … LAZY TEACHERS!!!! And those lazy teachers misinforming parents … NOW we have all this negative crap floating around that is hyping up more negative people.

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  • http://google diane Vandervoort

    I think changing from Common Core is ridiculous.. School has already started and teachers have made their plans. These stupid legislators have NO IDEA about the curriculum. Let the teachers decide and certainly wait until there is plenty of time to hear from the teachers!!!
    The Federal government is NOT taking over our education, but there are some tea party groups that want to privatize our public education!! BEWARE


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  • Dee Marie

    But….so many do a poor job teaching…You may be teachers, but as a Human Resources professional filling jobs…I can say with authority, we are doing a lousy job as a country, even with the best and brightest students who come with optimal familial support. Sorry…teachers….You’re not preparing kids for the real world. Common Core standards reinforce the critical skills needed for success that will advance the American Economy. It’s not about you. It’s not about the child. It’s about our country. If the status quo worked, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we? It’s the employers who are ultimately who you are trying to please for the sake of the American economy! Lest you all forget! If you all have been obtaining the desired outcomes, independent of a paradigm to work from, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. 40% of employers can’t fill vacancies, despite the Recession of 2007, because people lack the technical and hard skills to do the jobs. Most cite critical thinking as a key element. Common core, despite the rhetoric, promotes deep critical thinking. My family of teachers agree, even where they were resistant in the beginning. Stop complaining, study up on it during the summer when you have off, if you care so much, and do your best to move this country forward. Period.

  • Bryan

    Home schooling is the best option right now. My 6 year old has class about 3 hours a day at anytime that works best for her and my wife and I. She has nearly a 3rd grade reading level and knows about her world and history that most 4th graders could not understand.

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  • Blake Horton

    Why are all of the defendants of common core insulting the non supporters personally? This is problem because we all want better education, not because of our egos. If your going to challenge someone’s opinion with insults toward that persons intelligence then please grow up.