Common Core finds support in Coweta schools
by Celia Shortt
Common Core is an emotional and timely issue in education right now and three Coweta teachers recently weighed in on its impact in their classrooms.
Common Core helps teachers and students be on the same page, according to Kirstie Bassett, a second-grade teacher at Thomas Crossroads Elementary School.
“It’s not really teaching anything in a different way,” she said. “All it is, is allowing children to go back to the basics in thinking about what they’re learning. Why are they learning it? How are they learning?”
Bassett has been teaching at Thomas Crossroads Elementary for almost 20 years. In addition to allowing children to think about why and how they are learning, Bassett feels Common Core helps prepare children at an early age to think about the future.
“As educators, we look at this Common Core,” she said. “It’s basic, but yet it’s rigorous. It’s a step up. CCRPI is the College and Career Readiness Performance Index. We have to prepare children, even at the early age, for the real world.”
“In the Common Core, everybody is together, but everybody is heading in the same direction, the common direction, and we are all preparing children,” she added.
The Common Core Standards are a national set of standards for schools throughout the country. Even though the standards are national, the local school districts control the curriculum to get to those standards.
Another element with Common Core and its national standards is to ease the transition and provide consistency for those students who have to change counties and states during their time in school.
“The Common Core standards provide consistency within grade levels and across grade levels to promote the most comprehensive education for a student,” said Shirley Freeland, a fourth grader teacher at Thomas Crossroads Elementary School. “While it is a list of standards, it is written as a guide for the teacher to meet the needs of the students without allowing gaps in their educational process if they move within county, state, or country, providing opportunities for the teacher to use their resources and creative teaching to plan and teach students.”
Like Bassett, Freeland believes that Common Core will benefit Coweta County students because “they are designed to improve the higher order thinking skills that are needed to be successful in the work force as an adult.”
Rebecca Key, a third grade teacher at Thomas Crossroads, echoes Bassett’s and Freeland’s beliefs, but realizes there will be a time of adjustment.
“Georgia is still in the process of working through the new standards, and anytime you adopt something new, it is going to take a bit of time to figure out the kinks in the system,” she said.
Earlier this year, at the annual media symposium by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, State School Superintendent John Barge said that even though Georgia is keeping Common Core, there will be revisions to it.
“Anytime you embark on a huge initiative, such as Common Core, you always, always do a review of implementation,” he said. “We did a review after year one implementation, and we did some adjustments and made some refinements.”
At the symposium, Barge also referenced a survey which had been sent out to teachers across the state.
“I can tell you that based on what I’ve seen of the over 11,000 responses that we received from teachers across the state, over 80 percent of our teachers in this state are in favor of keeping the standards,” he said.
Another criticism of Common Core has been it causes local systems to lose control of their education and allows the federal government to take over.
At a Coweta-Fayette Rotary meeting, Barge clarified who had what control in the school systems.
He said Common Core is “broad overarching principles” and “not a federal government takeover for education.”
“The standards are not curriculum,” he added. “Local school districts will control curriculum.”
Both Freeland and Bassett believe the same about Common Core.
“We are fortunate in our county,” said Freeland. “Administration provides our teachers with support and many resources for us to choose from in our planning as we meet the needs of our students, which allows us to tailor educating at the local school and within the grade level to meet the needs of all students.”
“I’m here in the trenches … I don’t feel the pressure from the federal government takeover,” said Bassett.
Bassett also said they still have some control at the local level in whether things need to be tweaked – what is too hard in second grade that may need to be moved to third grade.
“We are all on the same page, but it may not look exactly the same,” she said. “Each county is able to make it work for them, but we still have the same goal. And the goal is to help those children think about what they’re learning, why they’re learning it, and how they’re learning it.”