Teachers, Republicans: Freeze 'Botched' Common Core Implementation

The Connecticut Education Association and House Republicans want to bring all stakeholders to the table to reassess the implementation of the controversial testing standards and teacher evaluations.

House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk). Credit: Cafero's website
House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk). Credit: Cafero's website

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.”

Calls for the public hearing began last week from House Minority Speaker Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk).

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:

  1. 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 implementation.
  2. More time for teachers to plan and practice good lessons, receive high-quality training, and observe and collaborate with colleagues.
  3. More time for students to learn and succeed at more rigorous standards.
  4. More financial resources to make sure classrooms are equipped with the required technology and that students have access to updated Common Core-aligned textbooks.
  5. 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."


Blue state Blues February 27, 2014 at 07:59 PM
Ricardo, No I do not trust any politicians,especially the Obama administration, they are the ones who devised common core. This is a good thing putting the brakes on common core, which is nothing more than a liberal indoctrination program.
Chris Morth February 27, 2014 at 09:53 PM
I don't like large swaths of the Common Core and the testing and evaluation processes are absurd, but a "liberal indoctrination program"? I think we can have a much more productive debate on how to improve education in Connecticut if we can talk and behave like rational adults.
Cohort February 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM
But... you can't just freeze the implementation of Common Core. What does that even mean? What would be taught instead of Common Core for the remainder of the year? I think Common Core is a mess, but now that we are in it, we need a well thought out exit strategy, not just a freeze.
Hammer McPhee February 28, 2014 at 07:16 AM
How did we ever educate our children in the past without Big Brother Federal Government telling use exactly how, what and when? What is that you say, when local school boards controlled the curriculum the US had the best public schools in the world? Liberal Indoctrination? Socialist would be more accurate. Look at higher education today, colleges and universities have "free speech zones" that are the only "area" on campus where free speech is tolerated. Which means that on 99.5% of the campus, the First Amendment is suspended. A liberal philosophy would not allow that, a socialist philosophy would encourage those restrictions. http://www.thefire.org/category/cases/free-speech/
Walton Burns February 28, 2014 at 07:48 AM
You realize the common core standards started with the governor's association, yes? Not Obama. I am amazed at how few comments here are about the education of children and are instead about ideology. The problem with these standards is all the testing they require. Time spent testing is time not spent teaching. And teaching to a test is not education.
John Flanagan February 28, 2014 at 07:50 AM
Cohort, It's simple, you revert to the standards which have been in force for at least a quarter century. There are entire communities, which do a good education job, such as Madison, Westport, Danbury. which have opted out of the idiocy of Common Core testing. They're sticking with the Connecticut Mastery Test which actually attempts to test what's been taught rather than set a different set of standards which attempt to lower the education level to insure that truly no child could be left behind if we lower the standards enough. Why? Because they are allowed to by both State & Federal law. And, they have seen that the alleged standards will, if you follow the money allocations, not improve education; will force teachers to teach to the test; and, will allocate monies to reward adhering to the test standards and results. Meanwhile, the textbook publishers will make a lot of money. The corporations, which invented Common core, will have many. many unwittingly educated to be compliant, dumb workers. And, we parents & taxpayers (but not elected officials) will be ill served by the dumbing down of the citizenry.
Rose February 28, 2014 at 08:11 AM
There is an article in Yes magazine this month about Diane Ravitch, a former G.W. Bush Assistant Secretary of Education. She has written this book ( http://www.amazon.com/Reign-Error-Privatization-Movement-Americas/dp/0385350880 ). She was apparently one of the architects of the changes to public education that began during that administration, and has now reviewed the evidence of the results. And, she says, she was wrong.
Middletown Voter February 28, 2014 at 08:18 AM
The problem with Common Core is not really with the standards to be taught - they are worthy and rigorous ones, which should be taught in a purposeful way. The problem with Common Core is in the implementation of it. What is happening to our curriculum is a steady narrowing - the teaching of SKILLS over CONTENT. The goal seems to be to make sure EVERY student gets the EXACT SAME thing, with very little room for teacher creativity and variety. The result, especially at the secondary level, is a deadening of the curriculum to mere rote skills. It is not at all clear how that will make our students more broadly and critically educated.
carol snyder February 28, 2014 at 08:58 AM
I have a 7 yr old who will be starting school in Naugatuck in Aug and based on what I have researched about cc I will not be putting her in a public school. Even though it will be tight I will be putting her in St Francis mainly because even though they also have adapted cc they at least stayed with the older testing methods. I would like to see some public meetings here in town not just in Hartford so parents can be part of the discussion.
Paul Bahre February 28, 2014 at 09:14 AM
I"m so glad that my daughter is 17 and is a Jr. She should be able to get out of school without any taint of the common core on her shoulder's. Common Core = Socialist indoctrination. That is the long short of all of it. If we elect our local school boards then why are they so willing to give up the ghost? The Granby high school is suspending teaching for two weeks to give Worthless tests so that the common core can fine tune their standardized tests. My daughter wanted to get out of it. She even stated that she will just put random answers on the test as a way of protesting. It's my understanding a good percentage of the students will do the same. It's my hope the practice tests goes down in flames. There is nothing good that will ever come of the common core. These people have to stop trying to make the US into a European socialist state because we are not. We American's have our own individualization and differing tastes and we celebrate that. The Common core will set out to ruin that.
Harry February 28, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Common core - reaching for the stars at community college. Botched, glitches, IRS intimidation, Chicago politics. We need to create a society of mindless sheep that do not question it's political leaders. Teabaggers are at fault an stories of losing your doctor or health coverage are all lies. We are the Borg.... Sorry but all of what is happening was predicted before 2008 regarding king Obama , more should have been paying attention
Paul Bahre February 28, 2014 at 09:37 AM
What ever happened to autonomy? What ever happened to personal freedoms? America (And CT) needs to rise up and throw all the communists out of power and elect a decent center right government. I'm am as sick of all this socialist drivel as I am of this long cold winter.
MOD February 28, 2014 at 09:45 AM
@Paul I agree with your about the testing, but to call the Common Core socialist indoctrination is a bit limited. It would be more accurate to say that it is the corporate takeover of schools, which started with No Child. The testing corporations are driving the bus, and they are the ones who will benefit the most. The actual Common Core is not unlike the standards which Connecticut has had for many years. Read both and that will be very apparent. While written by non-educators and quite unusable as written, the standards promote decent skills. What is different is the method of testing, and the money which will be made from that testing. Money is behind this, not social indoctrination.
marne Usher February 28, 2014 at 09:55 AM
We have too many students who are graduating from our high schools neither college or career ready. They have to take non-credit remedial classes in college before they can start actual college level work or they have to have extra on the job training before they can actually fulfill the job requirements. Common core standards were part of the solution to that problem. It is important to note that they are "standards" not curriculum. The curriculum need to teach to the standards is still in the control of the individual districts just as it always has been. The biggest concern here seems to be the testing component which is a separate issue from the standards themselves.
DM February 28, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Common core = dumbing down to lowest common denominator.
alex bell February 28, 2014 at 11:35 AM
Malloy just like his hero, Obama, proposes to delay a bad program until after the election. He also thinks all voters will buy into lies if he finds enough feel good proposals to distract them.
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 02:14 PM
@Walton Burns, The CC State Standards did not Start witht he Governors, States, or Otherwise. The NGA and CCSSO aquired the standards and copyrighted them. They can not be changed by the states that implemented them. Each State can only add up to 15% of their own standards, which isn't going to happen, since any changes or additions will have to be approved by the member states, NGA, & CCSSO. Anyway, From TruthinAmericanEducation.com "There is video of a speech that David Coleman gave at 2011 Institute for Learning Senior Leadership Meeting that is now making the rounds on Facebook. First we see a *ringing* endorsement of Coleman given by Lauren Resnick (who is the co-director of the Institute of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh) as she introduced him. She said: "Okay, so this is the kind of person we are going to be privileged to hear tonight. He has been involved in virtually every step of setting the national standards, and he doesn’t have a single credential for it. He’s never taught in an elementary school – I think. You know, I actually don‟t know. He’s never edited a scholarly journal, but I think he has written scholarly papers. And a variety of other things that have – you know, everybody here has done some of, he hasn’t done." "Then a stunning admission from David Coleman himself discussing his organization Student Achievement Partners whose founders (Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba) were leader writers of the Common Core State Standards. One is we’re composed of that collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards. And our only qualification was our attention to and command of the evidence behind them. That is, it was our insistence in the standards process that it was not enough to say you wanted to or thought that kids should know these things, that you had to have evidence to support it, frankly because it was our conviction that the only way to get an eraser into the standards writing room was with evidence behind it, cause otherwise the way standards are written you get all the adults into the room about what kids should know, and the only way to end the meeting is to include everything. That’s how we’ve gotten to the typical state standards we have today…. …I probably spend a little more time on literacy because as weak as my qualifications are there, in math they’re even more desperate in their lacking." So here we have a person who is almost laughing that he was not qualified, but is now earning upwards of $500,000.00 per year as the College Board President, aligning the CC to the PSAT's and SAT's - only in America......
Paul Bahre February 28, 2014 at 02:25 PM
I don't trust anything, anything not not one thing that is coming from the corrupt Obama Administration. Common Core is just another tool that Obama and Malloy wants to use to turn the US from a first rate first world country to a 2nd rate third world country. They are socialists at their core and they only wish ill upon us all. They will do nothing to create jobs or spark the economy. They have admitted that they don't don't want a jobs based economy, they want a welfare based economy where we would all be beholden to the Democrats. They want us all on the dole, they want us all ignorant so as to stuff the ballot box in their favor. Time to wake up America and reject this absolute garbage coming out of Hartford and Washington.
Cohort February 28, 2014 at 02:31 PM
John Flanagan, you can''t just revert to the old standards. Take 6th grade math. Used to be that by now, the upper 6th graders would be learning how to factor a quadratic equations. But under common core, they are instead repeating 5th grade math of ratios and fractions. So what happens Monday morning if there is no more common core? Can't have them factoring quadratics yet because they missed all the needed prep from September to now. Yes, we need to get rid of common core, but I'm afraid it also means an entire wasted year for all the 6th grade math students. We've permanently damaged their education. They will forever be a year behind.
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 02:33 PM
Pay attention to some of the text books that are aligned to CC, Here is the introduction paragraph from one such text book VOICES - Literature & Writing - 1st Grade Introduction(for the Teacher):Present the Central Question: In the Voices Democracy Theme students use their voices to advocate solutiions to social problems that the care deeply about. They are ingaged in learning the following theme-related social knowledge and skills, social role models, social advocacy, and respect for each other. In the Voices activity for this theme, they respond to this question by learning to develope a Democracy Plan in which they deleope ways to help people in need. Students are encouraged to express to explain their thoughts, feelings, and reasons for selecting the issues that their speeches address. display the Central Question on the Theme Poster and read it aloud. This book also has the following: Emotional Words: Teach/Model: Remind Students that emotional words appeal to reader's emotions and feellings. Tell students that when they write a call to action, they should include emotional words to get readers to feel so strongly about the problem, that they want to do what is being asked of them. So someone here want to tell me again why the curriculm in some of these books are not indoctrination? Call to action in 1st grade CC ELA? Are you kidding me?
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Here is a sample question from the same VOICES for 1st grade ELA book: My mom always _________ me to clean my room. Answer Choices: tells or nags Answer the kids are supposed to use: NAGS! So imagine Moms, your kid comes home from school, you ask them to clean their room and your 6 or 7 year olds says: STOP NAGGING ME MOM! Waht are you going to say then?
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 02:44 PM
To those who keep thinking and saying CC was state led... Hogwash! Again from truthinamaericaneducation.com "We’ve been told by Common Core advocates that they were developed by “the states.” The Huffington Post on Friday published a defense of the Common Core, and they have a historical overview of the Common Core’s development. We learned fascinating things about how Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday agonized over how to accomplish his state legislature’s directive to write new standards while “munching on pasta and salad” (a fascinating detail I know). He then thought aha! The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers did a presentation on how states could pool resources and create standards. Wait a minute? Doesn’t that illustrate that the standards were in fact the brainchild of trade organizations? Why yes, yes they were (as we’ve been saying for years). Then David Coleman was interviewed and I found this excerpt to be very interesting: Government officials meeting in airport hotels weren’t the only ones thinking about these problems. In New York, college buddies David Coleman and Jason Zimba had created — then sold — the Grow Network, a startup that sought to make the results of tests under No Child Left Behind inform teachers’ instruction. Coleman recalled they were shocked to discover in their research that learning standards tended to be so scattershot and cumbersome that it was almost impossible for a teacher to convey them to her students with any depth. Existing learning standards, he felt, were simply a laundry list, a product of school-board politics. Coleman, now president of the College Board, and Zimba, a former Bennington College physicist, went to work on a seminal paper for the Carnegie Foundation that called for "math and science standards that are fewer, clearer, higher." Directors at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation saw the paper and were impressed by its ideas. They funded some of Coleman’s work — and eventually dropped as much as $75 million on what would become the Common Core. . So now we see how the Gates Foundation pushing the idea of the Common Core by ideas set forth by David Coleman and Jason Zimbia. “The States” did not initiate the Common Core State Standards special interest groups did. Common Core advocates need to at the very least be honest about the origin of the Common Core. The claim that the Common Core originated in “the states” is absolute nonsense."
John Flanagan February 28, 2014 at 03:42 PM
@Cohort. Sorry! but, you're wrong. When you've started out in the wrong direction, you stop as soon as you realize the program is going wrong and reverse course. Want to know the best methods of educating our youngsters and establish standards, ask the classroom teachers and not the corporations. Teachers & parents know what students need. Dan Malloy and Brendan Sharkey don't. (and, I've helped elect them both.) They're listening to "experts from afar who aren't qualified. And, every philosophy of education 101 course will tell you that public education is supposed to reflect community values. CC standards clearly don't because they're set too low. When elected officials start being paternalistic, it's time to tell them to stop. That goes for local, state and federal. I do give credit where credit is due, Cohort. Nice try at misdirection to support your wanting to keep the CC standards which haven't been fully implemented yet. It apparently doesn't bother you these Corporate standards have been instituted without any full explanation; justification; or, even a "by your leave". They need to be revoked now and as much remedial work to undo the improper damage caused as is possible. Other standards have been in place for more than a quarter of a century. This is a simple repeat of the flawed 1970's "bring US education up to date" nonsense. That was a sudden implementation of arbitrary standards issued from the experts "on high" led us to such tripe as the "new math" and history courses where concepts mattered but dates didn't. Didn't work then and won't work now. Wasted approximately 10 years trying to meet the fantasy of college professors and corporate textbook editors totally out of touch with reality who wanted a grandly, diverse education to fit the mold created by their small minds incapable of dealing with complexity. And, now they're trying again.
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Bill Gates - who paid for most of Common Core By Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post... “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” "That’s what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University. He repeated the “we don’t know if it will work” refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative. Hmmm. Teachers around the country are saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable “research.” And now Gates says he won’t know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs now because of reforms he is funding." - Valerie Strauss
Brian C. Duffy February 28, 2014 at 04:37 PM
I do believe our Big Bad Brother Federal Government runs the world's most powerful military using common core standards, if I'm not mistaken.
Middletown Voter February 28, 2014 at 05:19 PM
It's true that corporate interests have led the reform movement. They see a very lucrative market in education reform, whether it is in selling us No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, or Common Core, or whatever replaces it. No doubt CC will be revised, due to the outcry against it. As an educator, I have to ask the reformers. As we know, the vast majority of students are doing very well. Yes, there is an achievement gap, which we have a moral obligation to address. But why are we upsetting the entire system to address this? Why change entire curricula - why upset the whole school system - to reach the kids who need us the most? It's not a socialist plot, nor is it Big Bad Brother. It's corporate profit interests. The promise of filthy lucre drives the whole thing.
Cohort February 28, 2014 at 05:43 PM
John Flanagan, I think you are misreading my post. I am completely against CC. I have been outspoken on this for several years. I view it as a way of dumbing down CT so other states like Missouri can catch up. I'm completely dismayed that our local leaders have taken us down this path. I'm particularly disturbed at the cheerleader mentality of school administrators who try to spoon feed CC to the parents. We pay the administrators big bucks to do right by our kids, not to sugar coat Hartford's/Washington's propaganda. And once CC is gone, I want these administrators fired. My point though, is that you can't just turn it off. Tell me, what would you start to teach the 6th graders come Monday morning? You can't just simply switch to what they would have been learning under the old standard at this time of year. Math doesn't work that way. It would be like taking a flight from NY to LA and half way through the trip you decide you no longer want to go - so you open the plane's door and step out.... Bad solution.
Walton Burns February 28, 2014 at 05:57 PM
@Redcoat I think that Coleman was hired by the NGA to write those standards in 2009, if I'm not mistaken. In any case my point is Obama didn't write them. The White House didn't write them so the many comments before mine, claiming that the Common Core is a socialist plot by Obama are inaccurate. And linking it to the IRS or Chicago politics or Obamacare is truly scraping the bottom of the paranoia barrel.
John Flanagan February 28, 2014 at 06:42 PM
Cohort, You are still wrong. If something is being done wrong, you stop it and restart. and, sorry, math does work that way because the knowledge is the same. It's a methodology that's being foisted improperly out of sequence by your description. And, you appear to be stating that the current system has been in place for 6 to 10 years. Try one to two. And, the remediation needs to start on Monday. We may lose some budding scientists; but, the mathematically inclined will recover. The schools will have to undo the damage beginning Now! Unfortunately, just like the "new math" era of the 1970's & '80s, there will be some 6th graders who lose. Sorry, but that's the price we, and the children, pay for forgetting that we can't let the inmates run the asylum. The damage has been allowed to run because the school system is built inversely to the promotion of good teaching. The best way to a good paycheck is not to make waves and rise in the management echelons. Putting it slightly differently, the education system is built to function as the Peter Principle at its maximum. All the while telling parents and taxpayers that we just don't understand. The folks who have given us the Common Core, if they are actually in the educations system (many are not), have risen to their level of incompetency while blaming the rest of us for their failures. And, our elected officials in Hartford have let them for appearance sake in election years.
Redcoat February 28, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Walton, I agree with your comments in regards to some of the craziness, but we need people to tell the truth of the origins of Common Core Mercedes Schneider a teacher from Louisiana has a great read on her blog called, The Common Core Memorandum of Understanding: What a Story A long post but worth the read. CC was never "State Led". We are in the beginning of Marc Tucker's top down Federal controlled education plan that he promoted to the Clinton's shortly after Bill Clinton became President, so these ideas have been around for a long time. Just wait until the money comes flowing from Obama to promote Arnie Duncan's plan of longer school days (13 to 14 hours a day), seven days a week, 11 months out of the year. He wants our kids to receive 3 meals a day, get health care services in school, and be entertained there on weekends. Here in CT, there have been two projects out to bid for Health and Dental clinics to be built in schools in Stamford and Waterbury. How in the world can we afford that? Arnie Duncan, David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, Michelle Rhea, Stefan Prior - common theme behind all these people? They were never teachers at any level, but are responsible for this stupid CC.


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