Standards can benefit students, teachers

The Idaho Education Association supports the Idaho Core Standards (more generally known as Common Core), and we are optimistic that this initiative can bring a creative, collaborative and interdisciplinary approach back into K-12 classrooms around the state.

However, a philosophical and financial commitment from the state legislature, the Idaho Board of Education and local school districts will be necessary for the Idaho Core Standards to achieve their desired effect. We must make sure that our teachers are aware of the expectations, and provide them with additional professional development and other resources so that their students receive the quality education that they deserve.

While well-intentioned, the “teaching to the test” mentality and the No Child Left Behind Act have handcuffed our professional educators and stymied student development. There is no better time than now to pursue this opportunity for greater depth in the classroom, and to reaffirm our commitment to developing well-rounded students who are prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities that they will face in the future.

For years, educators have embraced the various patchwork programs that have been introduced into their classrooms. While each program, in isolation, may have had nominal positive impacts on our students’ performance, educators realize that a bigger, more fundamental change is necessary. With the support of teachers, parents, lawmakers and other invested constituencies, the Idaho Core Standards can provide that fundamental change.

In order for the Idaho Core Standards to be as effective and impactful as we all hope, professional development platforms for teachers, financial support for the program, and patience in the early stages will be essential. The budget cuts enacted by the Idaho legislature in recent years have led to larger class sizes and dwindling funds, further stretching the time and resources of dedicated educators.

It is also important that Idaho values and priorities are reflected in the policies that impact the education of our children. While acknowledging the expertise of those who have developed Common Core strategies in other states, it is imperative that Idaho identify and implement guidelines that make sense for us.

Perhaps most importantly, let’s make sure that we listen to those who are in the classroom and work with children every day. As we contemplate the pros and cons of the Idaho Core Standards, let’s give substantial weighting to the insights and opinions of professional educators and empower professional educators to utilize their expertise. The dialogue about this proposal will be incomplete without the input and support of as many Idaho teachers as possible.

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