NEA President: We Need a Course Correction on Common Core

During my 23 years as a high school math teacher, I learned some important lessons.  One of the most important was that effective teaching and learning required me at times to be the teacher and at other times, the student. I listened closely to my students because they were the ones who told me what was working and what wasn’t.  I don’t believe I am any different than any other NEA member—we all want the best for every student in our classrooms and schools.

So when 45 states adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), we as educators saw the wonderful potential of these standards to correct many of the inequities in our education system that currently exist.  Educators embraced the promise of providing equal access to high standards for all students, regardless of their zip code or family background.

We believed the standards would help students develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the fast-changing world.  NEA members overwhelmingly supported the goals of the standards because we knew they could provide a better path forward for each and every student. The promise of these high standards for all students is extraordinary.  And we owe it to our students to fulfill that promise.

As educators, we also had high hopes that our policymakers would make an equal commitment to implement the standards correctly by providing students, educators, and schools with the time, supports, and resources that are absolutely crucial in order to make changes of this magnitude to our education system.

So over the last few months I have done what my students and fellow educators have taught me:  I have been listening closely. I have joined our state leaders in member listening sessions around the country, observed dozens of member focus groups, and invited hundreds of thousands of NEA members to share their views about how CCSS implementation is going.

I am sure it won’t come as a surprise to hear that in far too many states, implementation has been completely botched.  Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get CCSS implementation right.  In fact, two thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.

Imagine that:  The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make CCSS implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.

Consequently, NEA members have a right to feel frustrated, upset, and angry about the poor commitment to implementing the standards correctly.

So, where do we go from here?

NEA has been called upon to oppose the standards.  It would be simpler just to listen to the detractors from the left and the right who oppose the standards.  But scuttling these standards will simply return us to the failed days of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), where rote memorization and bubble tests drove teaching and learning.  NEA members don’t want to go backward; we know that won’t help students.  Instead, we want states to make a strong course correction and move forward.

Not surprisingly, as a math teacher I have some strong views about the proper sequence of things—not only in my classroom, but also when it comes to implementing this kind of systemic change in public education.  Start with high standards, create a curriculum that supports them, then focus on assessments that are aligned to what is taught and that really measure learning, then evaluate progress in teaching and learning, and finally pledge to make continuous adjustments to improve teaching and learning for each and every student.

So the first step is for policymakers to treat teachers as professionals and listen to what we know is needed.  Give us the resources and time—time to learn the standards, collaborate with each other, develop curriculum that is aligned to the standards, and time to field-test the standards in classrooms to determine what works and what needs adjustment.  We also need the financial resources for updated textbooks and fully aligned teaching and learning materials.

Second, work with educators—not around us—to determine how to properly use assessments in classrooms across America.  It’s beyond me how anyone would ask teachers to administer tests that have no relation whatsoever to what they have been asked to teach.  In too many states, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Old tests are being given, but new and different standards are being taught.  How on earth does that give any teacher, student, or parent information that is relevant to what they need to know or how they can improve?  Why would we waste valuable learning time for students?  And, then, to make matters worse, many states are proceeding to use these invalid test results as the basis for accountability decisions.

This is not ‘accountability’—it’s malpractice.

In states that have made a commitment to involving teachers up front and providing teachers with the time, training, and resources they need to make the standards work, educator support for the standards is strong.

So if better teaching and learning is our goal, then policymakers need to implement educators’ common sense recommendations to get implementation on track:

1. Governors and chief state school officers should set up a process to work with NEA and our state education associations to review the appropriateness of the standards and recommend any improvements that might be needed.

2. Common Core implementation plans at the state and local levels must be collaboratively developed, adequately resourced, and overseen by community advisory committees that include the voices of students, parents, and educators.

3. States and local school districts must place teachers at the center of efforts to develop aligned curriculum, assessments, and professional development that are relevant to their students and local communities.

4. States must eliminate outdated NCLB-mandated tests that are not aligned with the new standards and not based on what is being taught to students in the classroom.

5. States must actively engage educators in the field-testing of the new assessments and the process for improving them.

6. In any state that is field-testing and validating new assessments, there must be a moratorium on using the results of the new assessments for accountability purposes until at least the 2015-2016 school year. In the meantime, states still have other ways to measure student learning during this transition period—other assessments, report cards, and student portfolios.

7. Stakeholders must develop complete assessment and accountability systems. It takes more than one piece of evidence to paint a picture of what students are learning. Testing should be one way to inform effective teaching and learning—not a way to drive it.

I know that NEA members are committed to seeing the promise of the standards fulfilled. But we can’t do it alone.  Elected officials, school administrators, and other stakeholders are part of the accountability system, too, and that means stepping up and accepting more responsibility to get CCSS implementation right. There’s too much at stake for our children and our country to risk getting this wrong.

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  • Linda Myrick

    It seems to me that your point #1 is absolutely necessary, and I don’t see how we can move forward until #1 is thoroughly completed: “1. Governors and chief state school officers should set up a process to work with NEA and our state education associations to review the appropriateness of the standards and recommend any improvements that might be needed.” I’m not entirely sure, but it seems that this first step is a multi-year process that should involve teachers at every grade level and from every subject area, as well as psychologists who understand the brain development and needs of students at every developmental level. The standards must be given the appropriate trials with groups of students, and they would require tweaking until we got them right. And even then, they must not be tied to high stakes testing for students or teachers. Students develop at different rates and they must not be judged by standards that would make students who are progressing at rates that reflect their unique needs and situations be viewed as failures. The full ramifications and consequences of the implementation of CCSS, including impacts of SBAC and PARCC assessments, must be fully discussed before going forward. I don’t understand how steps #2-7 can even be discussed without halting this implementation and going back to the CCSS that were developed inappropriately from the get-go, based on goals that may not reflect the best interests of our students.

  • Dennis Van Roekel,

    With all due respect, you are missing the point.

    Please see parent and professor Jeff Nichols’ response

    @TsLetters2Gates: @DianeRavitch Nichols nails it! No redux of “implementation” w/fix this boondoggle! “Withdraw from Common Core.”

    I too am a progressive – and like Nichols, I see nothing short of fighting
    for democracy as an option in the decision about Common Core.

    I have a vote of “no confidence” in union leadership that does not reflect on their role in
    foisting Common Core as an untested, unfunded mandate that was never given any opportunity for
    public debate in any school district in the nation prior to implementation. This is America and our union leaders ought not accept Bill Gates’ money to sell consumers an untested mandate.

    There is only one simple answer, as Nichols states. “Withdraw from Common Core.” Return America’s schools to her local school boards. End privatization and get the money out of education. Get back to professional-led education vs corporate-led education.

    Your leadership has led us down the path of malpractice. Stop and reflect on social justice and democracy that is being stripped away while you provide lip service to members and take money to do corporate (Gates’) bidding.


    Susan DuFresne
    NEA Dual Endorsed Kindergarten Teacher, Special Ed/ Gen Ed

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  • Terry

    H e l l o…teadhers knew this a LONG time ago. No one listened to us. This IS a train wreck. First mistake was taking GATES money and listening to him not the REAL educators in the USA. Shame on you!

  • Betty Patterson

    Dear Dennis,
    Thank you for listening to us! Your message has always been that we need to reach all of America’s children. The Common Core as a framework does that. But the implementation in most states has hurt the process. Tying evaluations to test scores and how teachers are using common core is wrong.
    Thank you for always being the one to push us a little harder. We want our public schools to be the very best they can be. We need good standards to help achieve that, you have always been the Sane voice who tells us to try harder and to meet the needs of all students.

  • Linda Clifton

    Thoughtful and should receive support. Only one quarrel with what you say, Mr. Van Roekel, based on my long experience as a classroom teacher, NEA active, Teacher Consultant with the Puget Sound Writing Project, and a team member helping to develop Washington State’s original standards and writing assessment: teachers and schools need time to develop curriculum that supports Common Core learning, rather than “a curriculum.” One deeply troubling aspect of NCLB as well as Common Core is the pressure to adopt standardized “teacher-proof” curriculum and scripted lessons. Rather than empowering and developing local judgment and planning based on comprehensive understanding of the targets Common Core sets out and what it leaves out that is also important to student development, supporting “a” curriculum bypasses all that and undermines your point.

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  • Dana Bialecki

    NYSUT and many locals do not support the implementation of the Common Core. CC, high stakes testing and APPR are a package deal. Teachers support higher standards but do not support a National Curriculum that is tied to government Race to the Top money. Do this or no money is the theme here. Children, parents, teachers, administrators and politicians are working to end the Common Core. Check out the Badass teacher Association who currently has 38,000 members, The Badass Teacher Association, NYSCAPE, and dozens and dozens of other Facebook groups and Twitter names. Where are the groups who support this CC? They do not exist. I speak for thousands of people who want this to stop. I have been paying my NEA union dues for 20 years. You are not hearing my voice or the voices of other members. I am very disappointed that you are allowing Corporate America take over the public school system. Divorce yourself from the greed and educate yourself on the issues that we are faced with. Shame on you Dennis and the NEA.

    Dana Bialecki, NEA member, 20 year veteran teacher in NY State

  • Jim Mordecai

    Jim Mordecai
    One of the problems with Common Core Standards is that it was designed backward. The standards were based on long-term outcomes in English Language Arts and Mathematics in mind for a student graduating with all standards appropriate for college and career.

    One of many problems with backward mapping is that many of the standards for the lower grades are not developmentally appropriate. Published in The New Hampshire Journal of Education is an article titled From Common Core Standards to Curriculum: Five Big Idea by advocates of backward mapping and standards supporters Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. They advocate standards as desired outcomes not “curriculum or instruction”. But, in the school districts, I believe in practice, professors standards as outcomes will be ignored for standards as testing content to be covered and drill and kill, will not enhance student performance.

    Here is McTighe and Wiggins argument that Standards are not curriculum:
    A Standard is an outcome, not a claim about how to achieve an outcome (i.e. a curriculum). Thus, the Introduction to the Common Core Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics states that, “These Standards do not dictate curriculum or teaching methods” (p5).

    A similar reminder is found in the ELA Standards: “The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach.” (p.6).

    I advocate reference is not made by NEA leadership to “implementing” the CCSS because it implies accepting the standards “a priori”. Instead of reference to implementing CCSS, substitute teacher built curriculum for the standards at each grade level, in each participating state.

    And, the second response to this CCSS initiative should center on not a priori acceptance of CCSS tests. If the test items don’t test what they claim, then teachers, and their union leaders, must not be afraid to say so. And, such a judgment would be a posteriori, and not putting the cart before the horse as has been in the case of CCSS roll out.

  • Thank you, NEA, for [finally] shifting course. I have no doubt that the taste of crow is unappealing, but I do hope you develop a taste for it…this much is VERY welcome news, to be sure, but you have not yet gone far enough.

    I recently wrote an open letter to Dennis Van Roekel, and I hope he (and others) read it:

    In short, there is much yet to be acknowledged and addressed. Even so, I will sleep much easier tonight knowing that my union seems to be awakening….

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  • Moby Jones

    I am beginning to hate my job. I hear in my district, “implement the Math Common Core this year. No, we cannot afford any new materials or texts. We want you to struggle through this process and create your own so you can become expertly familiar with the new standards. Oh, and yes, your value add score might show you are a ‘least effective teacher’ and next year your salary will be tied with your value add score. You are now under the guise of the PARCC Consortium and next year your kids will be taking the PARCC tests. This year, on top of state assessments, you also must have your kids take MAP tests 3 times per year, a Measure of Academic Progress. Heavens, no, you don’t know what the test items are! But we’ll send you your kids’ scores to see how well you’re all doing”. As I said, I’m beginning to hate my job. We are told we must do anything and everything to get our kids to pass these tests, especially those “subgroups” that notoriously don’t pass. We must do anything and everything; we change things mid year and try something new. We shift on a whim. Why aren’t you growing these kids? Their projected scores say they should be at this number, but they’re not. I am not very effective. After almost 30 years, I am beginning to hate my job.

  • Anne Pember

    I agree that it is not appropriate to simply abandon the CCSS. There is good theory behind the concept, but the implementation has been very poor. Appropriate professional development is key for this initiative to work. And that PD must be ASAP. Support timely PD and a slower migration of CCSS into schools. This will allow teachers to be better prepared, but more importantly our students will benefit.

  • Ann McCarthy

    You call on states to defy the DOE, as California has done, but you don’t call for any change of direction from President Obama or Arne Duncan. How does that work? They have deceived and forsaken the public schools and educators of the country. If you let them off the hook, you let us down.

  • Amy Hepburn

    The CCSS were developed without any democratic process. It’s been tied to RTTT money with plenty of Federal pressure on states to adopt CCSS and mandatory use of state test scores in teacher evaluations. The NEA has been complicit in this corporate attempt to destroy public education and advance the privatization of one of our most democratic institutions. NEA has made a blunder of enormous proportions in underestimating the intelligence and commitment of the educators and parents in this nation. We do NOT accept your effort to pretend outrage at the bad “rollout” of the CCSS. We know when you are trying to quell the growing outrage around the CCSS and NEA’s complicity in this whole disgusting chapter in the history of U.S. public education. Get smart now and change direction!

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  • Diane Aoki

    Dennis, very glad to hear that you are addressing the problems with CC. It bothers me however, that you frame it as “45 states adopted.” I’m sure that teachers across the country will agree that they had no say in this, which is one of the reasons we’re having problems now. It was a condition of RTTT, which was offered at the height of the recession, a shock doctrine move, I would say. And we also had no say in that, either. It’s been top-down from the get-go. Now, will your “course correction” stand save us? Will you recognize that this is part of the war on public education? And mobilize us as a union should to win the war? Will you?

  • Sergio Flores

    After reading NEA President Van Roekel’s position on CCSS, and after reading all the comments posted up to this moment, I will add what I consider two reasonable points. When Van Roekel writes that: “Consequently, NEA members have a right to feel frustrated, upset, and angry about the poor commitment to implementing the standards correctly,” he advances the conclusion that the rightful indignation is provoked by the poor implementation of CCSS. The problem with this statement is twofold. The first one is that the assumption is weak (if not false). For CCSS to be validated, it would need academic or at least field testing proof that is feasible and conducive to the success of the main long term goals – all students improving progressively at the established pace, and that all these students being able to successfully go through college. As of today, no one has presented such evidence for these CCSS proponents’ claims. Thus, poor commitment to implementation cannot be taken as the source for teachers’ indignation’s. The second one is that by adopting the official position of keeping the faith in CCSS, NEA leadership is inhibiting the possibility of academic or field scrutiny. Consequently, the tacit endorsement by NEA leadership will consent with a costly and ineffectual tweaking of CCSS that will include but not be limited to: investing on even more professional development by districts, purchasing more “improved” aligned materials, exorbitant expenses on unproven technology to assist and test, and keeping seasoned and inexperienced teachers working and trusting that CCSS is going to deliver their students to the promised campus. After ten years of seeing and suffering the consequences of underfunded public schools, how can President Van Roekel can justify leading NEA members into an even bleaker future?

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  • Mrs Shannon Elisa Ergun

    I am so disappointed with this article. I started reading with a smidgeon of hope, thinking that maybe, just maybe, NEA governance had come to its senses. I found by the end that I felt like DVR was just placating those who are still on the fence and trying to guilt those of us who know how wrong CCSS and PARCC/SBAC are for our students. I have watched student after student fail to earn a diploma because of our ridiculous focus on standardization. Rather than kowtow to the corporations, let’s work together to put teaching at the professional status the job deserves. We need to build respect for the professional judgement of teachers and let us do what we are truly expert at doing – teaching kids.

  • Cory

    Common Core will and does hurt Special Ed kids.

    Cory D. Special Ed teacher, mild/moderate & Severe endorsed

  • X

    We don’t need #CommonCore to know what to teach or how to teach. We don’t need #SBAC to know how to assess or what to assess. Common Core (close reading, “critical thinking”, “collaboration”, self-adjusting tests, multiple correct answers) is not new, is not something we need tons of workshops about, and are not magic keys. Magic is how Pearson worked with politicians and edu-celebrities to monopolize the entire education system. Over the next century every business school will be teaching lessons on how to do the same. Anyone have a guess on what will replace CCSS and SBAC in twenty years when future politicians and edu-celebrities bash teachers for the “failing school system” and cry out for “reform”? We, the teachers, will be blamed yet again and their fingerprints will be no where to be found. Only the money in their bank accounts and campaign treasuries.

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  • Susan

    Very disappointing that union leadership is not taking a stand against these standards that are being shoved down the states’ throats. Teachers were not involved in creating the standards and many students will suffer from the standards’ unrealistic expectations. Some governors were asked to sign off w/o having seen the standards. Race to the top twisted the states’ arms into accepting the standards. Now we’re looking at new tests that require massive tech purchases and test computing skills alongside content. And the tests are clunky and difficult to take. (you try working out a math problem in notepad)

    The big question is: Who is to gain from Common Core implementation? It’s certainly not our students. Honestly, the way the unions have simply fallen into line makes me question what backdoor deals have been made with the testing consortiums.

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  • Michelle

    I’m very disappointed that NEA is not taking a stronger stand against CCSS. First, we MUST not be influenced by the propaganda that schools in the US are in need of reform. This is our first mistake! If we do not recognize the real issue of poverty as the true cause of students not being prepared for college or career, then we cannot move forward to help these students no matter how rich standards and curriculum are. If you are truly listening to teachers and parents across this country, you would not be promoting the support for CCSS in any way, shape, or form! There is only once solution to draw form this article: NEA is part of the problem, not the solution. I suggest you start supporting the members you serve and not the corporations you continue to take money from!

  • Martine

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE allow our teachers to be creative, allow our students to learn creativity, do away with the robotic and mis-guided common core testing.

  • Will K.

    You’re treating the problem as one of implementation, when the real problem is that this is one size fits all education. It should be done away with.

    And please do not give us teachers any of this stuff about, “It’s this or NCLB.” We once had neither. Life was better when we had neither.

    Bring back neither. Until you do, you’re going to keep hearing those screams below you of teachers you don’t know, teaching students you’ve never met, struggling to implement what some magical gurus from on high have decided is right for their students.

    I’m glad you found enough hearing to be able to get the message that we want it gone, but I think you need to turn your hearing aid up a little now. Have the courage to make this era of assessment and meaningless buzz words die once and for all (“accountability” and “standards” are particularly great buzz words to play a drinking game by).

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  • Michael

    CC$$ has to go. The leadership of our unions have to stop taking Gates money. This shows that even DVR hears our voices. Let’s get louder. ^o^

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  • Betsy schultz

    I am a retired math teacher from Maryland Public Schools. I am now living in Florida. I am not that familiar with Common Core,but have been reading and hearing about it on TV. I just started tutoring a 4th grader that uses Carson-Dellosa Common Core Math 4 Today. I have only looked at the workbook, so I don’t want to prejudge. BUT from what I can see, the problems in the workbook are disjointed and it doesn’t seem like the skills needed are taught in a sequential way. Of course, I am not in the classroom seeing what the teacher is actually doing. But my question is “Why would a very bright, normally high achieving kid, suddenly get 40%, 60%, etc on the assessments?” That is why the parent hired me to tutor their child. Is there something wrong with this Common Core Curriculum or is it the delivery of instruction used? In my past teaching, every time we had a change in curriculum we had hours of professional development to make sure it was delivered properly in the classroom. Baltimore County and Harford County Public Schools were top notch in teacher training. Are you saying teachers are not being trained how to implement the new curriculum? That’s crazy!!!

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  • I think it’s great that an organization like this has the guts to admit that it was wrong, in supporting common core. Granted, the President admits it in a round about way, but the requests at the bottom of the post are great, telling us just what they need. They need teachers to be the driving force in improving the curriculum, along with help from parents and with approval by the people in the states! That’s exactly what we, the Anti-Common core Parents, have been saying, all along! The common core should be created by teachers, not by foreign governments, the United Nations, Large corporations and a government-hired company!

  • Robert Leski

    Dennis, Common Core,like NCLB, will get you/us nowhere. As I indicated to you several years ago, the problems with education lie in its structure. We get the blame that should be placed on the poor structure of ed. Based on your comments above the NEA (and AFT) are still going to espouse the same meaningless platitudes I have heard my entire career — and educators will continue to lose ground. A structural reform is a sociological approach, not one based on an educational psycholgoy that has not worked throughout my entire career. I am a retired sociologist with many years in teaching. I can tell you that you are not thinking out-of-the-box. Educators should stand for a structural reform that will improve ed and lower the cost of a college ed. But, who in the NEA and AFT are grounded in Sociolgy? Bob Leski

  • The course change needed is “about face”, and if you won’t do it, Dennis, we have to take our union back from you and all your bought supporters and state henchmen. The MTA, for one, is ready to do that.

    Brothers and sisters, on the lame argument that we couldn’t stop the CC$$ juggernaut, Van Roekel took gates Money and signed my union on to his project.
    Now that parents and communities have seen through the smokescreen, and are fighting to ditch the CC$$, our ineptly-led union has taken on the role of last ditch defender!

    We don’t have to tolerate this. The battle here is for democracy itself, in our union and our country.

  • Denise

    I would like to know where the data is: most teachers like CC!?!?! What were your numbers? Who did you ask? I am so very disappointed in NEA. You, our leadership, are buying into this. You, our leadership, are representing we, the teachers! The morale and loss of respect is all around us. We need you to respect your members. I am saddened by this reform. We are losing our spirit and hope. Don’t but into this corrupt reform called CC. We need NEA to support us! CC is not the answer.

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  • 27Educators

    During my senior year of college (9 years ago) I took an honors course titled ‘Problems in Education.’ It was truly enlightening, and I could already see the writing on the wall. The course was built towards one major term paper, and I wrote 15 pages of research ADVOCATING for a ‘common thread or core’ in our public schools across the nation. I went on to be among the small percentage of students who actually make it through the whole education program, and one year later I was teaching in a CT public school. Victory! It was already extremely competitive for sparse teaching jobs. It was also a time when CT teachers were still highly respected. I began the truly intense, 3 year BEST program. After jumping through those hoops, I was deemed a ‘highly qualified’ teacher, and I could apply for the next level of my certificate. Now finally I could begin to focus on actual teaching, and less bogus paperwork, right? HA! Each year since has been nothing but a gauntlet set for teachers, getting progressively more insulting and demoralizing. Teachers are shell-shocked and outraged across this nation. At this point, most are wondering why the NEA should exist. I once believed in a common core, but I never imagined that it would be hijacked by the corporate elites. Democrats and republicans became undercover bedfellows in this, and millions of private dollars flooded television and radio ads with education reform PROPAGANDA. Over the past two years, dirty deals have been done in most states across the country. The narrative is simple. Blame teachers and schools for the ills of poverty and broken families. It’s not politically correct to blame the poor and mentally ill, so teachers make great scapegoats. Tie their evaluations to student test scores that have little to no significance towards good and creative teaching. Common Core should be nothing more than a guide. Instead it will be used as an ax. NEA must step away from this corrupt power grab! A mass exodus from membership is nothing to trivialize.

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  • Marla Mckee

    Until the students are held accountable…it won’t matter what NEA or anyone else does. The key piece will be holding the test-takers’ proverbial “toes to the fire.” When the test has no real meaning in their lives, they really don’t care about their performance! Think about…what if you had to take a driving test every year, but your results didn’t matter one way or the other…had no bearing on whether you could drive or not…would you care how you did? Would you bother studying? Just saying, it’s the same for the kids!

  • I think it is important to have a “common core” of standards that will apply almost nationwide (eventually it MUST be the whole of the U.S.). It was silly to have rural southern states getting higher test scores than California or New York on various state tests. Clearly many state tests required little to meet proficiency. Some teachers in poor performing states are worried that their states will soon look terrible on state/nationwide scores. The answer would be to do away with testing, but keep rigorous education.

    My problem with CCSS is that we will still have any testing at all. As long as students are learning to the standards, why do we have to have any tests? I am not a supporter of tests. As a teacher of sped students, I am worried that all my students will experience is failure and give up. No matter how hard they try, they will never be proficient on these tests.

    Also, these tests are just lining the pockets of the test-makers. Teachers’ salaries will be paid based on their test scores. So teachers in wealthy neighborhoods will get paid more because their scores will always be higher. How will this help students in poor districts when all their good teachers bail?

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  • Gus W

    The new standards should be voluntary. High performing schools need to be left alone, not dicatated to. In the inner city (where I teach) the greatest need is social-emotional, not academic. The achievement gap is so pronounced, our students come to us an average of 3 years behind grade level. They need serious remedial help, but the CC don’t provide for this, they raise expectations in a cmpletely unrealistic fantasy land. We can do everything in the new standards, but they’ll never magically fix the problems caused by poverty, family dysfunction, toxic stress, overtesting, etc.

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  • Bill Harshbarger

    Common Core, Standardization, and the every hungry drive to privatize education are failed approaches to teaching and learning. Please read Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error, 2013. Ravitch is a well-known Education historian who has solutions that exclude common core and standardization. We need solutions that work instead trying to cash in on every new corporate policy proposal.

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  • Shannon M

    DVR apparently thinks we teachers are a bunch of idiots who will swallow whatever garbage he spews! Oh yes, he has “heard” from thousands of educators, but what he fails to acknowledge is that WELL OVER 38,000 TEACHER voices (you know, those of us in the trenches everyday, seeing first hand what is happening to our kids) are saying that the Common Core with its related testing is NOT GOOD FOR OUR KIDS!!! And this is just a portion of teachers who are willing and able to stand up and speak out against Common Core. I would guess that there are at least as many more who cannot speak up for fear of losing their jobs. Teachers want standards. Teachers want assessments. However, teachers want standards and asessments that are meaningful and developmenatlly appropriate for the kids we teach. We want standards that are created by the people who have been trained in their field and know the students best. Who would that be? Oh, yeah. The TEACHERS! Apparently, however, we are just the “detractors from the left and right,” and our voices don’t count. Don’t forget, Mr. Van Roekel, that WE are the union, and we are not happy with whom you are aligning OUR union! Big business (Walton, Koch, Gates, Pearson, etc.) SHOULD NOT be dictating public education poilcy, nor should their money be influencing the decisions being made by the people who speak for OUR union. We will not be placated; we will not be overlooked; we will not be fooled; we will not be silenced; we will not be ignored; WE ARE TEACHERS; WE ARE THE EXPERTS; WE WILL BE HEARD!

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  • I have bee a member for over 45 years and am very disappointed that the N.E.A. did not get involved in Virginia Standard of Learning. I do not think one test should decide a child’s graduation. Every child is not going to colege but these test make all children take the same courses and vocational courses have been put aside. Common Core is the same principle. Teachers know how to teach but these standards are making teachers teach a way they know that is wrong. These type of test have taken teachers freedom to teach away. Lesson plans that take five hours for one subject is being forced on teachers in Virginia. All the government cares about is a paper trail. Has education forgotten that teachers need to teach the whole child? All I can say is that I am glad that I have retired and I am very disappointed that the N.E.A.and V.E.A. has let education get this way.

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  • NEA took almost $8,000,000 from Gates to support CC. If they didn’t get any money from Gates would they just say what many of have been saying for a long time…It is time to drop CC and start over?

  • Deb McCann

    It is NOT the manner of Common Core implementation that is at issue. It IS common Core ITSELF.
    Mr. Van Roekel, you are not listening, still

  • Amber

    Once again, politics at it’s best! We, as teachers, pay our union dues to have our union leaders represent their own personal views on CCLS, APPR, PARCC…, rather than the views of the members who elected them! I think it is a time for change in leadership!

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  • Nancy Merritt

    I am just curious why our children are not being taught cursive writing. I was told because of Common Core they are not going to teach cursive, so I guess the parents are going to have to becomee the teachers. This is beyond belief, so we are going to have a whole generation that can’t read a written letter, or sign their signature. So is business going to just have everything with print your name and signature no longer required. What about reading history? NO child will be able to read a letter written by our parents.

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  • Ron Poirier

    Has anyone else noticed that it is impossible to thumb up or down any of these comments? Why is that, I wonder?

  • Ron Poirier

    What does a union do when its leadership has been bought and paid for by the enemy?

  • Michael Metcalf

    In implementing CCSS, there must be a total paradigm shift on every level of the educational process including, but not limited to: the student physical environment, the student production of work, the pedagogical strategies used by educators, the evaluation of student work, the interpretation of student work, the meaning we attach or how we label student work. CCSS is mandating by its implementation a different model of education. No longer the “factory” model where students merely produce, students now create and become architects of their learning. Educators no longer expect students to regurgitate information, students process reorganize and take ownership of their learning and model real world problems with various degrees of expertise.. Fellow colleagues please realize that this is enormously challenging for students and there are no guaranteed results. After all, we want every one to succeed to the best of his ability, we can’t ask for more nor should we expect more than a normal distribution of success.

  • Larry

    Common Core is about forcing experienced, high salaried teachers to become demoralized, disgusted, and leave teaching. Common Core is about making students stressed and hate school because they aren’t developmentally ready to learn at the pace it dictates. Common Core is about corporate interests making huge profits selling tests and test prep materials to school districts. Common Core is about unions (national, state and local) that agreed to implementation of a “program” that defies all semblance of rationale and logic for understanding how young people learn and progress. Common Core is about allowing Mr. Bill Gates to run our schools.
    Mr. Poirier’s question is beckoning an answer. As educators, we know that Common Core is a cleverly packaged way to organize those who aren’t happy with America’s public school system. Educators are being told “what to do” by people with little or no experience teaching and deep pockets. When Common Core first started in my school district, we were told “it’s like we’re building an airplane in the sky.”
    They weren’t kidding.
    HOW have our unions allowed this?
    It’s time that we abandon Common Core ONCE AND FOR ALL.

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  • Implementing the Common Core State Standards is a complex process, and most school districts are unable to meet the challenge in a systematic way. The Curriculum Leadership Institute (CLI), a nonprofit service to districts, has created a model that addresses the CCSS opportunity. The elements of the model have been developed over a 25 years R & D process, but are particularly well suited to meeting the current challenge. That model includes an inclusive decision-making and action taking method of academic program governance, a systematic way to develop a local curriculum that is well aligned with the CCSS, instructional processes that work in concert with the well developed curriculum, and local assessments that make sense. For more information about CLI and what it does, visit

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  • xxx

    Will start becoming concerned about these issues when I can get a job. Until then, those who are complaining could you please resign and make some room in the field for those who want to work.

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  • MarsMe

    How did Common Core get in the door of our own schools?
    Other than the few Governors who have passed legislation to throw out Common Core and its insidious government sanctioned controls, most Governors have blindly accepted the federal grants in exchange for $ millions to simply go along. It temporarily helps their state budget deficit from education costs without awareness of the long term goal of the founders of Common Core. By now you all know that not one Governor was directly involved in the creation of Common Core. The media spinned the story that Common Core is good because numerous Governors had a part in it, but the truth is they simply ” endorsed it.” Our own Governor Dayton, last Fall, has admitted his endorsement of Common Core was due to the need to accept “free” federal funds for the budget.
    ?Yet, few seem to know that the 2009 Stimulus Bill included a large section reserved for the Federal Dept of Ed., that usurps our constitutional laws pertaining to the rights of parents for the confidentiality of their children’s personal information. Few further knew that this act enjoins the corporation of G.E. and Microsoft as partners in this data gathering system within Common Core where our children’s personal data including personal attitudes, sex preference, home income, parent’s voting status, political party affilliation and of course, Common Core’s 12 days of test data each year. Few know that Common Core testing data is NOT accessible to our teachers. Common Core obtained data of each child is sold/funneled to several huge corporations, including Microsoft and G.E.
    As we now know, the cash strapped states were easily persuaded to adopt the implementation of Common Core through accepting Federal funds, ( $55 billion allocated in the 2009 Stimuls Bill) $ hundreds of millions were awarded as ” incentives” to states to have them accept Common Core. teachers had no discussion opn this!!

    The structure and standards of Common Core were never vetted, it was not designed by any established system of educational research. It was however, influenced through Bill Ayers, currently an Illinois University professor and former indicted terrorist from the 1960’s who has stated on interview, he admitted he was guilty as sin for those bombings of the Pentagon, the Capital and NYCPD building, while acting as the leader of the radical terrorist Weathermen Underground. Since his “evolvement”, he has been engaged with other extreme Progressive organizations such as the Tides Foundation, the Apollo Group with former Obama’s green Jobs czar_Van Jones,
    and the Bill Gates Foundation. The government records show Van Jones, the former Green Jobs czar who was later forced to resign after less than 2 years, acting through the radical Apollo Group was a chief writer/creator of parts of the 2009 Stimulus Bill that including the mechanism and initial funding for the Common Core system. That part was cleverly cloaked in the Bill’s 2,100 pages.
    If you would access the public records, you can read for yourselves _ within the 2009 Stimulus Bill, of the inclusion and mechanisms for how the Common Core machine was to be embedded in our state education system. Common Core once fully implemeted will effectively neuter the oversight role of community School Boards and it will now monitor and track every child’s development and private information through the age of 20. This data will be allowed to be sold ( thank Bill Gates) and used for private gain and future manipulation of our youth and to track them into the type of jobs that the federal government is told they need to produce within each state. Freedom of our children to think and chart their own course in careers will be a thing of the past.
    The supporters and founders of Common Core are not dictated by a Republican or a Democrat political ideaology_ it is simply from a larger Progressive movement that now spans both aisles of these parties currently in our Congress. People such as Senator Ran Paul and other Tea Party endorsed are the exception. They know well of this government run system for control of all educ ation and thus all future voters…while keeping the Unions happy to gain more donations from them…all at the expense of our children, your family privacy and teacher’s wellbeing. If you think the NSA spying scandal is big, CCSS system is just the beginning.

    After reading the 2009 Stimulus Bill; section for the Federal Dept of Education, (note section on the allocation of tax payer funds toward establishing what is cleverly the Common Core), you may then find this presentation helpful in visually diagramming the issues, the controlling players and the resulting expected outcomes for our children once Common Core is embedded in every school. If the Unions knew most teachers once educated would not blindly follow this atrocity of education, that most teachers agree with the Constitution where-as, those powers not expressly remained to the Federal government are the responsibility of each state….Unions are corrupt . No? When was the last time your local and state asked you to vote on who and how much was spent for elections? Yup_ doesn’t happen_ the union mob bosses know best for us, in their mind.

    Thank you for your time in educating yourselves in order to best serve our children.

  • Amadeus Fris

    You are clearly NOT listening to what teachers are saying, NEA, and you’re not fooling anyone. These idiotic “standards” need to be COMPLETELY scrapped. All of them. From top to bottom. In all my years of education, I’ve never seen something so asinine. This is child abuse and if NEA keeps defending this, it will quickly lose support from the teachers it claims to represent. Enough is enough!

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  • DoGoodAnyways

    I can attest that the Common Core Standards are not being implemented in a reasonable and thoughtful manner. Supposedly it was supposed to role out one grade at a time with training provided for each grade level, but now it has become a panicked pressure cooker, where principals have their bosses breathing down their necks, and principals breathing down the teacher’s neck to implement things we have hardly even heard about yet. Every week it is some new emphasis with hardly time to think about the last topic. We are being set up for failure. This is not how places like Finland achieved their success. It is through careful building and patience that real progress is made. The current situation is chaos and unhealthy for everyone.

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  • Daily, I am reading about the CCSS and high-stakes testing from several online sources. I’ve read Diane Ravitch’s latest book as well as The Death and Life… Everyday I become more and more frustrated with what is happening to public education, its teachers, and most importantly our students. This is madness! Everyday I have to make a conscious effort to be positive and have the right frame of mind, just to make it through a day of teaching. I don’t want my students to suffer because of my conflictions about the Core and testing. It breaks my heart every day to see my students struggle with the fast pace Core, and now, with testing. The stress I see my students go though just because they don’t understand the developmentally inappropriate questions on our year end tests (SAGE), makes me want to cry. Seriously!

    One thing that has come to mind just recently is this: Where were teachers, educational leaders, and NEA when Gates and the bunch were designing the Core and putting it out there? I’m not being critical, I just want to understand how CCSS and high-stakes testing made it into our classrooms without any educational expert being privy to the contents of CCSS? How did this slip by us? And now that it is here, does NEA have a plan to stand up to the so-called ‘reformers”? This cannot continue without voices being heard from every level – students, parents, teachers, districts, states, associations/unions, anyone education friendly! I know that is happening in some places throughout the nation, but is it enough to make a change?

    Or, maybe I am missing something? I would like to know!

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  • DevilsAdvocate

    So – teachers should be consulted on how to implement Common Core. WT?? What am I missing here?? IMHO one of the reasons we got No Child Left Behind – which has evolved into Common Core — is because students have done so poorly in school. rnMaybe if teachers had been more effective there would be sound reasoning to consult them. Obviously if they ‘knew’ how to teach, we wouldn’t be in this mess! rnI have seen: Junior high students whose reading and math skills were not on grade level (many were only at 2nd or 3rd grade level); School districts that adopted a do not retain policy, so students figured out there was no reason for them to work – no matter what they did, or didn’t do, they would be advanced to the next grade (and graduated when the time came). I’ve also seen high school graduates who could not complete a job application and college students who could not write a paper in the same tense.rnI have observed so much ‘touchy-feely’ instruction that it’s no wonder – again IMHO – students aren’t learning. ‘School’ has become a glorified baby-sitter, and entertainment center. So sorry – but is there really a better way to learn multiplication tables than by simply rote memorization? No, maybe it wasn’t fun, or exciting, or entertaining, but …. I learned them by memorization and I STILL remember them!rnI remember frequently experiencing more than 25 students in a class, sometimes even more than 30. We were provided all books and ‘ordinary’ supplies. Parent involvement? The extent of that involvement was “Did you get your homework done?” If the issue was addressed again, it would be a variation of “You BETTER get that homework done!” Parent-teacher conferences weren’t always attended either. ‘Parent involvement??’ Ha! rnrnAgain, we are in this mess because – performance declined, and continues to decline. And so the passing of the buck begins: First and foremost, it’s always ‘we need more $$.’ Next is teachers often have an excuse for why they aren’t teaching. There just never seems to be any accountability. If a teacher went to work in the private sector (non-education field) and employed these tactics, s/he would be terminated. Period. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. rnThe basic concept of Common Core seems both logical, and practical: develop standards for math and language arts (with it being up to the individual STATES to determine how to implement.) Most descriptions of CC include comment that adjustments will need to be made – but we need to start somewhere. We can’t continue to keep graduating illiterates. (Well, we can, but at what cost???)

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