Not Just Criticism: Common Core Gets Support in New York

A recent public meeting brought the kind of response that New York's State embattled education commissioner John King has been eager to receive, as dozens of parents and educators expressed their support for Common Core learning standards.

Last week, in his first forum on the Common Core learning standards in New York City, King faced, for the first time in months, a highly supportive audience. Signs in support of the learning standards and Common Core's role in equalizing educational opportunities for students in poorer neighborhoods by raising expectations for its teachers and students were held by dozens of parents organized by the advocacy group StudentsFirstNY.

"I'm here to dispel the myth that children in low-income neighborhoods cannot learn," said Darlene Boston, a parent of a child who recently graduated from high school. "Common Core is another way to bridge the gap of inequality that exists in New York City public schools."

According to Yasmeen Khan of WNYC, the event held at Medgar Evers College highlighted the need for improved instruction. Parent Jacqueline Green Parks, whose children attend Leadership Prep Charter School, said they were ready and willing to meet higher expectations, even if it meant that they struggled.

"It is okay for kids to feel challenged," said Parks. "It is even okay to fail, because most times this is what helps you to grow."

Common Core standards were praised by several educators including Anthony Lombardi , principal of P.S. 49 Dorothy Bonawit Kole in Middle Village, Queens, who said that he "fundamentally" disagreed with a parent quoted in SchoolBook previewing the forum who suggested that the Common Core would help drive instruction toward more test prep.

"I fundamentally believe that the Common Core is going to force schools to be creative, innovative and flesh out lessons and units of study that are going to propel student learning," he said.

Despite supporters speaking positively, some expressed dismay that Common Core appears to be in opposition to higher learning standards. A member of the Community Education Council for District 16, Kathleen Daniel said the Common Core is a "very good model" but had reservations about implementation.

"However, the Common Core was deployed by a bureaucracy that has not changed since the year of the flood," said Daniel. "So I'm very concerned that a great model perhaps isn't getting the support that it could because we have a poor deployment and implementation coming from a bureaucracy."

Elsewhere, the "execution" of the Common Core required more expertise and professional development as Heather Lawrence, principal of P.S. 181 in Flatbush, Brooklyn put it. Additionally, she said that through the state's Common Core website, EngageNY, and new curricular materials, teachers have worked to piece together instructional materials.

"As we think about the execution of this we must think about the culture of which this system — this new system — was planted, and everybody's not ready," said Lawrence. "The fact that there's information does not imply that behavior change is coming," she said.

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