GENEVA – Illinois adopted the Common Core state standards in 2010, but educators, parents and school officials still are wary of what it means for their students, according to a roundtable discussion Monday hosted by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield.
New Illinois state learning standards incorporating the Common Core establishes new standards for math and English language arts; provides consistent learning expectations for students; and provides higher, clearer, deeper real-life learning for college and career.
Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core Standards, according to its website, www.corestandards.org.
“Several states have slowed it down,” Hultgren said of the Common Core standards being implemented. “I think it’s an important thing to talk about. I also wanted to see how we could work together … and help facilitate conversations of what is working well, what’s not … and how to achieve the goal all of us have, the best possible education for our kids.”
Those participating in the 90-minute roundtable discussion were Pam Reilly, a second-grade teacher from Sandwich who was 2013 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Kane County Regional Superintendent Patricia Dal Santo, Waubonsee Community College President Christine Sobek, St. Charles District 303 school board president Steven Spurling and member Judith McConnell, and two St. Charles mothers, Michelle Pollard, a home-school parent, of five and Joyce Palignoff, a parent of three.
“The Common Core is not a curriculum, it’s standards, and you design your curriculum to meet those standards,” Dal Santo said.
The standards are what children should know at each grade level before moving on to the next level, Dal Santo said. Each school district decides how to accomplish those standards, adopting textbooks to help accomplish that.
An opponent of Common Core, McConnell said Shakespeare was the only English author included in the standards.
“It’s frightening,” McConnell said.
But Del Santo said the standards do not stop a school district from adopting a curriculum that includes other English authors.
Reilly said as she has traveled Illinois, teachers are concerned with how the student assessment will be done when they will be judged on the outcome.
“I feel like the conversation needs to continue,” Reilly said. “In second grade, I know the destination they need before they move to a third-grade classroom. Common Core gives me the autonomy to teach those skills. Some districts are getting there in a Cadillac and others [in a car] with three wheels and no gas – but are expected to reach the same destination.”
Pollard said it will take at least three years to get some success from implementing the standards and she felt sorry for students who will be caught in the shuffle.
McConnell said the only way to fight it is for superintendents to band together and refuse to implement it.
“It is scary to me,” McConnell said. “And it’s an outrage.”