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Education union cites challenges to Common Core implementation

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2014 14:29 PM

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel made a surprising comment about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) earlier this month, stating that the rollout has not met expectations. The comment comes as a surprise because the NEA initially showed strong support for the CCSS?, and many school districts across the country are reporting improved results in student learning because of the Standards. Although Van Roekel might believe that the implementation of CCSS in schools needs improvement, supporters are still standing together to help students attain higher levels of academic achievement.

Reasons behind the changes in the NEA's position
State governors and American education experts created the Standards as a way to help U.S. students reach higher levels of academic excellence. The CCSS focuses on rigorous language arts and mathematics instruction in public schools and aims to increase students' critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. By instilling the value of thorough reasoning and deeper levels of conceptual understanding, the state governors and education experts hoped an intelligent and more capable generation of workers would emerge.

Van Roekel still believes that the CCSS will bring out the best in American students, however, he thinks a few changes to the Standards and a revision of related tests needs to happen. According to Van Roekel, the way schools have implemented the CCSS remains an obstacle to successful education reform.

"In far too many states, implementation has been completely botched," Van Roekel said in a statement to NEA members.

Successful implementation of the Common Core
Out of the 50 states, only Texas, Alaska, Minnesota, Virginia and Nebraska did not adopt the Common Core. The education departments in the other 45 states have worked to establish the necessary foundation to successfully implement the CCSS, creating workshops and holding town? hall meetings to explain the goals and purpose of the Standards.

Van Roekel's statements may have an effect on some teachers across the nation. Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, urges school administrators to remain patient and look at the long-term benefits of CCSS implementation. Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, also believes that the states shouldn't change course just yet.

"When the going gets tough, union presidents run for cover," Petrilli said in a statement. "As the head of a democratic organization, Dennis Van Roekel can't ignore those concerns [about the Common Core]. But here's hoping that he shows courage, too, in following through on his commitment to higher standards and stronger schools."