Common core: An opportunity in Jamestown

The Affordable Care Act and the Common Core state standards are a lesson in how not to roll out new programs.

The Common Core web sites work, which is nearly the single item New York got right in its implementation of Common Core. Anna Geronimo, regional staff director of New York State United Teachers’ regional office in Jamestown, hits the nail on the head when it comes to Common Core.

“From the NYSUT perspective, the goal of the Common Core to get students engaged in higher order critical thinking is an excellent one, and we support it completely,” Geronimo recently said. “The issues we’ve seen arising are the implementation and the development of these standards. We remain concerned over the schedule of implementing the standards, which has not allowed enough time for absorption of the process by teachers.”

The early implementation of the Common Core has been abysmal. There have been so many moving parts it is difficult for the public to adequately grasp all that has happened in such a short time. Part of the problem is the Common Core is tied in to several other programs, like the federal Race to the Top that provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to many area school districts, and recently enacted teacher evaluations. The public doesn’t know enough about the Common Core’s curriculum modules to know if the static they’re hearing publicly is right or wrong.

Common Core is far from perfect, but few would argue the fact that too few children in New York graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in college or in the workplace. It would behoove John King, state education commissioner, to admit the rollout has been poorly handled and that perhaps the state should slow down just a bit. King will be in Jamestown tonight from 5-7 p.m. in the Jamestown High School auditorium. It will be a wonderful opportunity for concerned residents to have their questions answered, but we think the session would be more productive had King been more responsive early on to the obvious problems associated with the Common Core’s rollout. King’s reluctance to take such a small step does nothing but fan the flames surrounding Common Core and keep the focus on the bungled rollout.

Focusing on the bungled rollout directs attention away from the real questions that King should be answering at these sessions: are the underpinnings of Common Core sound and, if they aren’t, are there a set of standards by which we should educate our children?

Those are the $64,000 questions.