Parents, educators voice support for Common Core state standards

Story by Teresa Wasson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A group of educators and parents today voiced their support for Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards, saying the higher standards are essential to preparing Tennessee’s public school students for success after high school.

Four educators and two parents explained their support for the standards at a news conference preceding the Tennessee Senate Education Committee’s two-day fact-finding meeting on the topic.

“Today and tomorrow are important days as Tennessee’s Senate Education Committee will examine a critical piece of Tennessee’s work to prepare students for college and the workforce – Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards,” said Dr. Vicki Kirk, Director of Greene County Schools. “We support raising the bar in the classroom, and we support these standards.”

Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards are a set of higher expectations in math and English that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. The standards emphasize college- and career-readiness with teaching and learning focused on critical thinking, strong writing skills, and problem solving – the real world skills that students need upon graduation. The standards were developed by leaders from the states, and individual states choose whether or not to adopt them.

“As educators – superintendents, principals, and teachers – as well as parents, we wanted to take this opportunity to make our voices heard on this important issue and speak on behalf of the thousands of teachers who are implementing these standards in their classrooms today, on behalf of principals across the state, the 136 school superintendents across Tennessee, and the hundreds of thousands of public school parents who support their children,” Dr. Kirk said.

Many at the news conference are members of the Expect More, Achieve More Coalition, a statewide alliance of more than 300 business, community, and education organizations working for higher standards in Tennessee’s public schools.

“I know from my own experience as a parent that my child is being challenged more,” said parent Sandra Rowcliffe, who is also president of the Knox County PTA Council.

Others speaking in support of Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards included:
• Cicely Woodard, math teacher, Rose Park Math and Science Magnet Middle School, Metro Nashville Public Schools.
• Phillip Eller, math teacher, Cedar Grove Elementary, Rutherford County Schools.
• Amy Zink, a Clarksville mother who is Tennessee PTA vice president of child and youth advocacy and chair of the National PTA’s Military Family Support Committee.
• Dr. Meka Wilhoit, kindergarten teacher, Grainger County Schools.

The teachers described how they are using Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards in their classrooms, how the change has benefited their students, and how they look forward to using assessments that are better aligned with the standards to measure student progress.