Republican legislators are adding their voices to a growing chorus of education advocates calling for the state to pull the emergency brake on the controversial Common Core State Standards.
The effort gained momentum this week when Republicans rallied to secure the 51 signatures needed to force a public hearing on Common Core — and, at the same time, set the stage for the introduction of two bills that would freeze implementation of Common Core and create a subcommittee to review teacher evaluation components of the standards.
“Educational standards impact everyone in our state and taking the time to make sure the people have a chance to voice their opinions is the right thing to do,” state Rep. Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-Naugatuck) said. “Our teachers, administrators, parents and students deserve a public hearing to express their opinions.”
Republican Bills Call for Freeze & Study
According to a press release from House Republicans:
Proposed Bill No. 5078, authored by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano (R-23), would freeze the implementation of the Common Core curriculum for further study until all stakeholders have time to examine its potential effects and reduce classroom evaluations for teachers.
Proposed Bill No. 5331, put forth by the House Republican caucus, calls for the creation of a subcommittee of classroom teachers to discuss and share their issues involving the teacher evaluation program, reduces the number of formal classroom evaluations to one per school year, reduces the amount of goals to be established by each teacher, streamlines data management, and enables the exclusion of student scores on statewide mastery tests, including the Smarter Balanced assessment test, from being factored into a teacher’s evaluation.
In response, Education Committee Co-Chairman Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, told the Connecticut Post: "I don't even understand how that bill is properly before the General Assembly. I did not have a single Republican colleague approach me about the Common Core curriculum before February of 2014. Not one."
'Botched' Implementation of Common Core
Connecticut has joined 45 other states in adopting Common Core; the state did so on July 7, 2010, and this is the first school year they are being implemented. [Read the state's "Strategic Plan" for implementation.]
Late last month, in response to the growing criticism of Common Core, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was successful in getting the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council to delay the standards for one year.
And while the implementation has been years in the making, a new poll from the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) says an overwhelming majority of teachers feel the rollout has been mismanaged.
“Teachers always have and will continue to support high standards, but the enormity of the botched CCSS rollout has caused wide-spread frustration," said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg. "Teachers are demanding that Connecticut get this right. That’s why—this time around—teachers need to be at the center, not the distant periphery, of standard setting and implementation.”
CEA represents 43,000 teachers, and the organization held a press conference in Hartford Wednesday to announce the results of its new poll.
“With nearly 1,500 teachers participating in our survey," Waxenberg continued, "it provides policymakers with what they never had before—specificity from the frontlines of public education and teachers’ clear ideas about what is necessary for student success.”
And here's what they think, according to a press release from CEA:
- The opportunity for teachers to be
involved in their schools’ planning for
Common Core, as well as the chance to give feedback in order to improve
- More time for teachers to plan and
practice good lessons, receive high-quality training, and observe and
collaborate with colleagues.
- More time for students to learn and
succeed at more rigorous standards.
- More financial resources to make sure
classrooms are equipped with the required technology and that students have
access to updated Common Core-aligned
- A moratorium on accountability provisions tied to the Smarter Balanced test so that students and teachers can have time to prepare.
CEA welcomed news from top policymakers that, in the next two weeks, they would establish a Common Core State Standards working group of teachers and other educators from across the state to make recommendations on Common Core implementation. The policymakers included Democrats Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald Williams, and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, according to CEA.
'Save Our Schools'
Another group, Parent-Teacher “Save our Schools” Alliance (PT-SOS) is also calling on legislators to mend or end implementation of Common Core. The organization held a press conference Thursday at the Legislative Office Building.
"The Parent-Teacher 'Save our Schools' Alliance (PT-SOS) calls on legislators to stop the madness in our schools by listening to parents and teachers. The group is calling for passage of Ethan’s Law – which would allow parents to opt their child out of standardized testing."