To the Editor:
Vermont, along with a majority of other states, has already adopted a common set of educational standards that outline what we expect our students to know and do in grades pre-K-12.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent framework upon which local districts and teachers can build their curricula. The common core represents an evolution of our current standards and our best, collective thinking on the math and literacy skills our students will need to be prepared for their future.
I never understood why as a nation we had 50 sets of educational standards, each with different sets of goals for students. I support the concept of states’ rights, but having such a wide array of benchmarks no longer makes sense in our mobile society. In order to create consistency and equity for our students, regardless of where they live, we need to agree on common standards.
Some will argue that these standards are not needed, or are being driven by foundations or corporations. To be clear, teachers and state education personnel played an active role in writing them. They are not federal standards.
Many national organizations have supported the writing of these standards, but they did not drive the decision to adopt them. The standards were written by states, for states, to meet our country’s needs. And, nothing in the common core prohibits us from addressing additional locally developed standards that reflect our own priorities.
Vermont, along with New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island, modeled how states can work together as a consortium to create common standards (on grade-level expectations) and assessments. Partnerships among states provide richer opportunities for our students and our teachers.
I applaud our legislators, state boards, governors, and state chiefs for supporting and adopting these new standards when our political process in Washington seems paralyzed by partisan gridlock.
Vermont Secretary of Education
A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 2013 edition of Education Week as Vermont Secretary of Education: Common Standards Make Sense