Public education has hit another crossroads. We can collaborate on a liberating vision of school using the new Common Core State Standards, or we will remain trapped in the back-to-basics movement, which narrowed our curriculum and killed curiosity for many students.
Many educators gave their input to the Common Core standards groups, and they came up with standards that emphasize creativity, deep learning, collaboration and analytical work ó things that help students succeed in college and careers.
But it will take more effort and more funding to do the Common Core right. Teachers need more training and preparation time to make key shifts in their professional practice. School districts need new instructional technology and systems to support computer-based testing.
Unfortunately, in states like Ohio, there is little support for this transition. For example, Ohio is moving to new standards but keeps testing on the same old tests. Why would we test students based on standards that will no longer be used in classrooms in Ohio? It defies common sense to use standards already discarded by the Ohio State Board of Education.
Thatís why more than 1,000 OEA members voted at our Representative Assembly to demand a moratorium on testing based on outdated standards.
Further, linking the future Common Core testing to school district report cards and other high-stakes decisions will introduce a virus that will misdirect the work of educators and students. Test results serve reform better when they are used sparingly for diagnostic purposes, giving students, educators and policy makers the information they need to refine or change current practices.
OEA sees wonderful possibilities in the Common Core, and in some Ohio schools we are seeing teams of teachers and administrators collaborating in exciting new ways as a result.
It would truly work if we just give students and educators the time and tools they need to succeed.
Patricia Frost-Brooks is the President of the Ohio Education Association, which represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohioís public schools, colleges and universities.