|
|
Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Parent says voice diminished regarding Common Core

  • As his first year as a District 309 Board member, Joe Driscoll said he wanted to better inform himself about Common Core, so he reached out to the Citizens for Better Education group in central Illinois.
    • email print
  • As his first year as a District 309 Board member, Joe Driscoll said he wanted to better inform himself about Common Core, so he reached out to the Citizens for Better Education group in central Illinois.
    “When policy discussions start in District 309 regarding what I’ll call Common Core, because there are several variations of that, I just want to be as informed as I can about it,” Driscoll said. “There hasn’t been any discussion in this first year that I’ve been on the school board.”
    Driscoll said he supports a pause for Common Core to give people more time to digest it. He said he views it as three complex components: testing, curriculum and data collecting.
    “I see going forward that testing for students and then for teacher performance and effectiveness is going to drive some of this curriculum conversation, which therefore then has an impact on the area of local control,” Driscoll said. “There are a lot of concerns about local control and I don’t think they should be dismissed or diminished. Rather there should be some open and honest conversation.”
    Driscoll said he thinks it is a “reasonable approach” for state legislators to put a “pause” on Common Core.
    Rachel Snow of Tremont is involved with the Citizens for Better Education. Snow, who is against Common Core, has a lot to say about it.
    Snow said the group started last summer when concerned citizens came together. 
    “We don’t have a specific membership. We’re a loose group of citizens that work on educating ourselves and meeting with legislators and holding meetings in public to try to get some of this conversation to take place and really let people examine the issues,” she said.
    Snow, 42, and her husband have educational backgrounds. They both taught for a short time in Indiana. Currently, Snow homeschools her two youngest daughters. Her other two daughters attend public school.
    Eventually, Snow said Common Core will impact homeschooling. 
    “I really started looking into Common Core as my two younger daughters, we would anticipate going into the public school and I wanted them to be prepared,” she said.
    There are many reasons Snow is against Common Core, but there are also things she supports in the education system.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I am for our teachers. I am for our districts and for local control, and I am for high standards for our students,” she said.
    Snow said Common Core is a complex issue and to say that there is local control because teachers can still choose textbooks and teach what they want is “very simplistic.”
    “This came under the Race to the Top reform package so in order to receive Race to the Top dollars, Illinois had to agree to the standards. They had to agree to increasing our longitudinal data system. They had to agree to agree to being in a testing consortium and Illinois picked PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). And then we had to agree to principal/teacher evaluations based on PARCC,” Snow said.
    Snow added that textbooks still have to be Common Core aligned, and she said that the text is written in such a way that there is less control in the classroom.
    “When we’re told to just look at the standards and all our concerns are eliminated, it’s really hard to do that,” Snow said. “It’s really hard to understand the language of it.”
    Achieve Inc. in Washington, D.C., wrote the standards for Common Core, Snow said, adding that this was funded by the Gates Foundation. Snow said the standards were quickly written and accepted.
    “There wasn’t appropriate time to know if this was right for us,” she said.
    According to its website, “Achieve is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is leading the effort to make college and career readiness a priority across the country so that students graduating from high school are academically prepared for postsecondary success.”
    Snow said parents are being told that their children will be taught more abstractly.
    “They’re having to use methods that are so far from the way you and I were taught. Now, that’s not necessarily wrong or right, but where’s the research to say this is going to work across our state and for every child in the classroom and how can teachers differentiate?”
    Snow said as a parent, she feels her voice is being diminished. She has talked to many parents in various communities, such as Washington, Morton, Eureka, East Peoria, Peoria and more, who are upset with these changes.
    Page 3 of 3 - “When they talk to administration we are told these are good. Our children are learning to think abstractly. The issue is this was not brought up for public dialogue. And the real issue of control, I believe, is being threatened because we no longer have a discussion.”
    Even if a large group of parents visited the school board or State Board of Education, Snow said the standards for Common Core cannot be changed because they are copyrighted.
    “We can’t take anything out of them or we can’t add anything to them,” she said.
    According to the State Board of Education’s website, Common Core will not require any new money, but Snow thinks that is false.
    “If you’re going to do it well, you’re going to need to use Common Core aligned textbooks. Your teachers need to be trained in teaching in this very different abstract way,” she said. “In essence, it’s an unfunded mandate.”
    Snow encourages parents to become informed on the issues by studying both sides. She recommended sites such as corestandards.org and truthinamericaneducation.com. She also said that parents should share concerns with their child’s teacher, principal, superintendent and school board, as well as senators and representatives.   
    “Unless legislators hear from parents and take action, nothing will change,” Snow said.

        calendar