Teachers voice no confidence in Common Core implementation

Educators want time to prepare for teaching, testing new standards
April 24, 2014
Frederika Jenner SOURCE DSEA

Delaware's teachers' union is supporting a group of its members who recently launched a vote of no confidence on implementing national Common Core standards.

“We feel we are not moving in the right direction if we continue on the fast track with implementation,” said Frederika Jenner, president of the Delaware State Education Association.

Jenner sent a letter to members of the Delaware General Assembly asking for a moratorium to teacher's evaluations tied statewide student tests.

"I ask you to support DSEA's request for a return to an evaluation system whose primary purpose is to improve the skills and abilities of the educators it evaluates and, thereby, the achievement of the students they educate," she wrote in the March 31 letter.

The letter was the result of an earlier meeting when about  200 teacher representatives from school districts statewide gathered for DSEA's annual representation assembly.

No Common Core action was on the meeting agenda; a delegate proposed the no-confidence vote from the floor, and other delegates supported the proposal. Jenner said a majority of those in attendance supported the no-confidence position in a voice vote.

“The concerns revolve around the number of changes that have to happen in the classroom,” she said. “Teachers don't feel like they've had adequate training or guidance to make the transition to the classroom.”

The Common Core is a set of educational standards that has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. There is no established curriculum for meeting Common Core standards; many teachers say they have been told to pull lesson plans from the Internet, Jenner said.

“That shouldn't be left up to the individual teachers,” Jenner said.

Curriculum should be vetted and approved before it is used in a classroom, she said. Teachers asked for three years to implement the new curriculum and to get everyone up to speed, Jenner said.

Jenner said Delaware teachers are not opposing the Common Core standards, but they want more time to Implement the goals.  Testing based on the new standards and linking teacher's evaluations to the results of the test are major concerns, she said.

Cape Henlopen Education Association members Sarah Ross and Amanda Jester attended the DSEA assembly meeting. When the Cape Gazette asked whether any action was taken on Common Core, Ross said in an email, “You were misinformed. There was no action taken on Common Core.”

A second request for clarification of CHEA's position drew an email response of “no further comment.”

The questions raised by Delaware teachers come on the heels of the National Education Association's request for a mid-course correction in implementing Common Core.

“Educators are caught in the middle of an implementation train wreck,” wrote NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Too many teachers report having neither textbooks aligned to the standards, nor the time to plan lessons and collaborate with other educators.”

Gov. Jack Markell has been a major proponent of Common Core Standards; he wrote a recent op-ed for U.S. News and World Report in support of it.

“We know that the success of our efforts depends on our educators, and it's always helpful to hear their feedback,” his office said.