May 28, 2015

Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles teachers unveil recommendations on way forward for Common Core

Classroom Teachers Highlight Value of Standards, Call on Policy-Makers to Apply Lesson Learned from Common Core Thus Far to Ensure Future Success

May 28, 2015 (Los Angeles) - Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles, a teacher-led organization that seeks to elevate the voices of teachers in policy discussions, today released a teacher-authored paper entitled One School of Thought: Moving Toward the Common Core. This paper, written over the last severals months by a group of 16 working classroom teachers, discusses the potential of the Common Core State Standards to transform the art of teaching and learning for the 21st century. It lays out recommendations for the state, districts, unions and schools that provide a way forward in making new, higher standards more successful through formal roles and targeted support for teachers, students, and parents.

“Perhaps the greatest impediment to Common Core State Standards has been misinformation,” said E4E-LA Executive Director Ama Nyamekye. “The fact is, students need an ambitious and rigorous set of standards designed to educate them for the modern world. The Common Core State Standards can achieve that goal, but they are a destination, not a roadmap. The journey to actually achieving these standards will require collaboration and alignment between our state, districts, union and individual schools.”

Working off the idea that Common Core implementation requires buy-in from all four of these stakeholders – the State of California, districts, unions, and schools – the teachers behind this report outlined the following recommendations:

  • The state should continue to allow individual districts to innovate and meet local needs, but still set and communicate a broad vision and overarching goals, and provide data so that districts are held accountable to their own plans. The state can and should still collaborate with community, civil rights and philanthropic partners in setting and communicating this vision.
  • Districts, and specifically Los Angeles United School District, should provide a clear local plan that enables each school to assess where they are and then lay out a path forward. The plan should include an overall vision, aligned to the state’s timeline and vision, and be as clear and concise as possible, with teachers, community and parents as its target audience. This vision and plan needs to be developed with teacher leaders at the helm, and open to parents and community for both shared responsibility and accountability.
  • United Teachers Los Angeles and unions throughout the state should advocate on behalf of high-quality implementation of Common Core at both the negotiating table and in the public discourse, taking into account the needs of both its members and their number one concern — students. A strong focus on Common Core would give our union a much-needed proof point of its student focus, and restore its position in the public dialogue as the trusted and respected voice on curriculum and education policy issues.
  • Schools should utilize their proximity to both teachers and parents to build buy-in at the local level. Schools can provide workshops for parents, to share information and training that helps_parents feel informed and empowered on a consistent basis. Among teachers, schools can create leadership roles that keep teachers in the classroom while giving them opportunities to truly own and shape the implementation of Common Core across the school. By aligning both the workshops and the teacher leadership roles and responsibilities with the state and district visions, schools can meet the minimum standards set out by the state and the district. At the same time, schools can leverage this strategy to serve as hubs of innovation, utilizing the unique talents of their teachers and community to meet and exceed those goals.

“The Common Core State Standards have the potential to revolutionize education and student performance in California,” Nyamekye added, “but we must invest as much time and care in implementation as we did in formulation. I hope policy-makers in Sacramento and here in Los Angeles will take the work of these teachers to heart, and work together to get it right.”