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AFT President Randi Weingarten's New and Improved Definition of the Common Core

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 8:00 AM

AFT President Randi Weingarten testified in Congress in support of common standards in 2009.

Every time I write about the Common Core, I describe it something like this:

The Common Core is a set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do in math and English at each grade level. It was developed by teachers, math and language experts and others in an effort organized by state school chiefs and governors.

But earlier this month, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten provided a different explanation, one she says better describes the Common Core for parents and others not steeped in education jargon:

"The common core is about problem-solving, critical thinking and team work...If you start saying to people it's about not just knowing things, not just being able to regurgitate, or memorize and then spit out what you've memorized, not just being able to guess to an answer but actually trying to solve a problem, actually being able to critically think..." then they get it.

Weingarten says much of the opposition to the Common Core is because people don't understand what it actually is, or because they think it's just about a new kind of standardized test:

"The federal government led with the tests...That's giving people the signal that testing is more important than teaching and that's totally dissonant from what the Common Core is."

In Ohio, a growing number of people are opposed to the Common Core. Some are opposed to the new standardized tests that will accompany the Common Core, which will require students to spend more time taking tests than under Ohio's current testing regime.

But concerns that local school boards and state policymakers will have less control over what's taught in Ohio schools also loom large. Some Common Core opponents also don't like what the new standards emphasize and leave out and are concerned about the cost of buying new materials for and training teachers in the new standards.

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