More than 300 California business, nonprofit and children’s groups have signed a statement supporting the Common Core State Standards and staying the course amid the discord over Common Core in other states. (Go here for full statement.)
“While we recognize the hard work that needs to be done by teachers, district leaders, and state policymakers to make Common Core implementation successful, we believe that the investments and hard work will pay off for our students in the long run in preparing them for college and career,” says the one-page statement, which was circulated by the nonprofit advocacy group Children Now. Signers range from the California State PTA and the American Youth Rugby Union to the California Society for Biomedical Research and the Vacaville Police Activities League. A half-dozen chapters of the United Way, various chambers of commerce and some county and urban district superintendents also signed on.
Debra Brown, Children Now’s associate director of education policy, said that the letter was intended to show that Common Core “has deep and broad support” – an impression that can be lost amid the noise created by smaller numbers of vocal opponents.
Backers conceived of the statement in early spring, Brown said, when they were worried about the Common Core practice, or field, test that all districts planned to administer on behalf of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Smarter Balanced is a states-led organization, in which California has a lead role.
“We were approaching the field test with trepidation” and were worried about “knee-jerk reactions” if there had been major breakdowns. As it turned out, the field test went smoother than many had expected, Brown said, “but the underlying message of our support statement still applies and demonstrates how committed we as a state are” to implement Common Core, knowing that obstacles will arise.
Brown acknowledged that implementation has been inconsistent throughout the state, with some districts “more aggressive than others” in rolling it out. Children Now and other education groups have called on Gov. Jerry Brown to make room in the state budget for more one-time money for districts to pay for teacher training, materials and technology, although that was not the purpose of the letter. Brown included $1.25 billion in the current budget for Common Core but no more in his proposed budget for next year.
With the first round of actual Smarter Balanced tests scheduled for next spring, Brown said she’s aware that teachers and districts are concerned about how the results will be interpreted and used. But, as the letter notes, there’s “an important need for policymakers, district leaders, teachers, parents, business leaders and community members … to maintain reasonable expectations.”
The statement will be sent to Gov. Brown and legislators. Debra Brown is hoping education groups send it to their members.