This letter is not about an election. I am a give to Caesar what is Caesar’s type of person. I vote because it is my civic duty, and pray for forgiveness half the time I vote. I am not affiliated with either party. But it grieves me when I see a step in the right direction for the children of Mississippi getting caught up in political misinformation. I see education as mission field, and I am passionate about our children and our students. They are our future – all of them, not just the ones we gave birth to.
Common Core was not written by the government. It was written by teachers all across the United States and leading researchers after years of collaboration. They studied other nations as well to determine what our children would need to be competitive in a global society. Reference: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/frequently-asked-questions/.
All of those worksheets people see posted in social media about Common Core are not a problem with Common Core, they are a problem with the textbook publishers’ application of Common Core. Common Core is a list of skills that students should be working to master at every grade level. Common Core does call for more critical-thinking skills than before, which have been shown to be very important into today’s global society. Common Core does not specify math problems or assignments. Teachers and school districts are still given the freedom how to teach and apply the Common Core standards.
Recently the Louisiana governor said that his state was backing out of the Common Core standards, and Mississippi’s governor was quick to follow. Of course Louisiana and Mississippi voters are griping to leaders about Common Core. Why? Because we are the most behind! It’s going to be hard work to catch up! We’re tired of being last in the United States. Our students deserve better. Are we going to scream “government interference” and continue to sit in a cesspool of mediocrity, or worse? Do we know that some of the other states’ biggest concerns when designing Common Core were that their standards would have to be lowered to implement it?
I have taught in four different states in very diverse settings, from the Mississippi Delta to Colorado. Tupelo is a gem in our state for sure, but Mississippi needs the bar to be raised. I love Mississippi, it’s my home, but when it comes to education, as a state, we don’t have it. The reasons are multifaceted. It’s going to take a lot of work and time. I’m here to be part of the solution, not a mudslinger. Now, are we going to shoot ourselves in the foot and go backwards because of some silly political chest-thumping, and sacrifice the children of Mississippi as a result?
The key to effective implementation of Common Core standards, in my opinion, is thoughtful and purposeful teacher training of implementation, particularly in small, failing rural districts. They are severely underfunded, which I have witnessed first-hand, due to MAEP not being fully funded every year. Most teachers, by and large, that I know, teach because it is their calling. They will do whatever it takes. Give the tools, and we will teach. Teachers are severely underpaid, work long hours well beyond the school day, and dearly love students and jobs. Teachers become pawns every election season and are under-appreciated by lawmakers.
It is very sad to me that education is not a top priority in Mississippi the way it is in other states. Why would anyone not want to invest in our state’s best asset: children?
Children are Mississippi’s future. All were a child once. Think about that. Before bashing Common Core, do the homework and become educated as to why it was written, who wrote it, and why. It wasn’t “Big Government,” but concerned teachers.
Educators who have issues with Common Core should really read the standards and compare them with our own state standards and make a list of which specific levels of mastery are at issue.
Lee Anne Grace, a National Board Certified Teacher, has 20 years teaching experience. She has taught with the Tupelo Public Schools since 2002. Her daughters Abby, and Katie, are graduates of the Tupelo Public Schools. Abby is a junior at Georgetown University and Katie will be a freshman this fall at Emory University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.