There may be opposition to implementation of the Common Core State Standards in some parts of the state, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is moving forward with the initiative despite what it could mean for his political future.
“There’s no going back,” Malloy said Thursday during a press conference at Annie Fisher School in Hartford.
The press conference was focused on the release of the recommendations from the Common Core Task Force, which Malloy created through an executive order.
Asked if he felt vulnerable politically for moving forward with the Common Core, Malloy said he always feels vulnerable.
“I’ve always felt vulnerable politically,” Malloy said. “My whole entire life. It goes with the fact that you run for office as opposed to not running for office. But if you’re asking does any of that shade in any way my commitment as a public servant to doing what’s right? The answer is ‘no it doesn’t’.”
Not implementing the Common Core was never an option the task force looked at during it’s discussions. Neither was not adopting the Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment tests, which will eventually replace the Connecticut Mastery Tests.
“There are titles, there are phrases that are used that cause consternation,” Malloy said, referring to some of the jargon that comes with the Common Core. However, he said the teachers he has spoken to support the measure because their students will be more prepared for college and careers.
Malloy said there should be no doubt that all the teachers and parents in the state want what’s best for their children. He believes the best way to get those outcomes is the Common Core.
Diana Burns, a member of the Common Core Task Force, said she thinks there’s a big misconception that Common Core is curriculum when it’s not.
“It’s a framework and teachers have the ability to teach it in any fashion they want to, so I think that it’s a public misconception,” Burns said. “Teachers are really supportive of it and I just hope that’s really known.”
She said they confuse it with being part of the Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment test and they confuse it with the new teacher evaluation system, which uses student achievement on standardized tests to measure the success of a teacher. Earlier this year, the state delayed tying the new teacher evaluation system to the Common Core State Standards after the two teacher unions complained.
A survey released in March by the Connecticut Education Association found that 97 percent of the 1,452 teachers surveyed felt there should be a moratorium on implementation of the standards. A survey in May of teachers from both the CEA and AFT Connecticut showed 82 percent were concerned about the amount of time they have available to “adequately learn, develop, and implement common core standards.”
AFT Connecticut President Melodie Peters said she has heard less angst about the Common Core than she has heard about other issues.
“But we’re working our way through it. It is about educating people,” Peters said.
However, there are teachers and advocates who feel the Common Core is not an appropriate way to proceed.
Earlier this year, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed legislation reversing his state’s adoption of Common Core. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin joined him earlier this month by signing similar legislation repealing the Common Core in her state.
Connecticut’s Education Committee heard hours of testimony against implementation of the Common Core earlier this year, but no legislation repealing it moved forward for a vote. The state Board of Education adopted the Common Core back in 2010. The legislature never voted on its adoption. At least two gubernatorial hopefuls have made getting rid of the Common Core a focal point of their campaigns.
“His support for the Common Core and its absurd, unfair, and costly Common Core testing program is undermining our public education system and wasting scarce public dollars,” Jonathan Pelto, who is running for governor under the Education and Democracy Party, said.
Peters said she doesn’t believe that Common Core is going to undermine the public education system.
She said the opposition to the Common Core is a “handful of folks across the country who have an agenda to undermine that.” She said the task force and the stakeholders in the state have proven they can make Common Core their own.
“That they can do their own ConnectiCore,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, part of Malloy’s announcement Thursday included additional funding for implementation of the Common Core.
The state Education Department will allocate $2 million for 1,000 professional teacher training days, $2 million for professional development to enhance language arts and math instruction for all students, including those with special needs, and $10 million for school technology upgrades to support the transition to the new standards. Aside from the $10 million in technology upgrades, which will be added to the state Bond Commission agenda, the rest will come from the Education Department’s existing budget.
The $10 million is in addition to the $24 million the state already allocated for technology upgrades related to the transition to the Common Core.