AFT Calls for Curriculum Choices for Common Standards

By Catherine Gewertz — June 15, 2011 1 min read
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Not long ago, the American Federation of Teachers helped spark a lively national debate about the need for shared curriculum for the common standards. Some feared that “shared curriculum” meant one lockstep learning plan, dictated by outsiders. (For a refresher on this stuff, read my stories here, here and here.)

In a recently issued resolution on common-standards rollout, the AFT reiterates its call for curriculum aligned to the standards and bends over backwards to clarify that it does not advocate a single curriculum for everyone.

Curriculum should not be “prescriptive or scripted,” the resolution says. It should “allow appropriate teacher autonomy” while providing a “rich and detailed road map” of what children should learn. And here’s the part about avoiding one curriculum for all: “Schools, districts, and states would be best served if offered options of curricula from which they could choose; in every case, curriculum must be closely aligned to the standards.”

The AFT pledges to partner with states, districts, universities, and others to develop curriculum resources, along with tools to help educators evaluate the many curriculum choices that will inevitably be floating around out there.

The union’s resolution also emphasizes the need for professional development on the common standards, not only for teachers, but for administrators at the school, district, and state levels, and for those in teacher-prep programs and professional organizations. The AFT also says it wants to work with the publishing industry to help “motivate” companies to “overhaul” their materials—rather than just tweaking them and proclaiming that they are aligned to the common standards.

The AFT’s stand on common-core implementation reflects the concerns of a committee it convened on the issue. For more on the discussions from the committee meetings, see our blog posts here and here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.