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Pryor May Be Departing, But Common Core Is Here To Stay

by Christine Stuart | Aug 20, 2014 12:43pm
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Posted to: Education, Election 2014, State Capitol

Christine Stuart file photo

State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor with Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor in the background

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor will be departing his position before January, but State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor made it clear that the state is still moving forward with the controversial national standards called Common Core.

“I know that there are many superintendents, and some of you may be here, who have basically said: ‘We don’t need the Common Core’,” Taylor told a group of 125 school superintendents Tuesday.

He said there’s a general belief among the Common Core naysayers that those national standards should be for “other districts.”

Connecticut doesn’t send inspectors to local school districts to make sure the district is “Common Coring it,” Taylor said. “If kids in your schools can not just do math, but understand it. If they are facile with all of the basics . . . and understand what they’re doing going into higher math, you’re probably teaching the Common Core.”

He said Common Core is “not a curriculum and it’s certainly not a lock step procedure.”

As chairman of the state board of education, Taylor said his board “will continue to focus on the Common Core because it insists on raising the level . . . for all of our kids.”

But the Common Core remains controversial in some districts and the political arena.

In 2010, Taylor and the state board of education adopted the Common Core and asked local school boards to begin writing curriculum with those standards.

Connecticut’s General Assembly never took a vote or had a discussion about the Common Core until last year when Republicans used a parliamentary procedure to force the Democrat-controlled Education Committee to hold a public hearing.

Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said Wednesday that some towns she represents started to transition to the Common Core back in 2010 and are happy with it, while others seem to be overwhelmed.

Will it be an issue the legislature revisits next year?

Boucher, the ranking Republican on the Education Committee, said she’s taking a “wait and see” approach. With Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chairwoman of the Education Committee, retiring and all of its members up for re-election it’s too soon to tell what topics will be raised.

However, Boucher said with something as big as the Common Core she would like to see “more disclosure and more discussion.” She said the state needs to find out where it’s working and where it’s not working and help the districts that are struggling.

The two petitioning candidates for governor, Jonathan Pelto and Joe Visconti, have said they would get rid of the Common Core, if they were elected.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has embraced the Common Core. When he unveiled the recommendations of his Common Core Task Force in June, Malloy said “there’s no going back.”

Republican Tom Foley’s position on Common Core isn’t as clear cut as the rest of the candidates.

“I’m not promoting Common Core. I do support standards,” Foley said last week during a press conference in Trumbull.

“We need standards to measure performance,” Foley said.

But as far as getting rid of the Common Core, Foley said he’s sitting down with teachers and school administrators to get their input on the issue.

“I think we need standards. Listen, a lot of schools in Connecticut already have standards and they’re different from Common Core,” Foley said.

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