The Common Core State Standards can transform the art of teaching and learning for the 21st century, 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.
Written by an Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles Teacher Policy Team of 16 working classroom teachers, One School of Thought: Moving Toward the Common Core 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 teacher leadership roles and targeted support for teachers, students, and parents.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.
Together, we can create a new generation of schools that offer the kind of deeper learning needed to access colleges, careers and—most importantly—the deepest potential of our student’s minds.