Posted by Gary Jeanfaivre

A cross section from the state’s education community has been charged with diving headfirst into the controversy that has become known as Common Core.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that he has signed an executive order creating the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce – a group that will be comprised of teachers, parents and administrators with the goal of identifying challenges and gaps in Common Core preparation, and making recommendations on improving the quality and consistency of its implementation.

Public Hearing & Rally in Support of Common Core

Malloy’s announcement comes a day before the General Assembly’s Education Committee will hold a public hearing on Common Core. That hearing — which was forced by Republicans in the General Assembly amid growing outcry against Common Core — will take place at noon on Wednesday, March 12, in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building.

Two hours before that hearing, a group of superintendents, school board leaders, principals, business and community leaders will gather at the Legislative Office Building to express support for the Common Core State Standards.

“The rigorous Common Core State Standards are clear and consistent, designed to make sure that what kids need to learn at each grade level builds on the grade level before. We believe that the Common Core will help ensure that all Connecticut students are prepared for college and careers, which, in turn, will help make sure Connecticut thrives,” the group, which refers to itself as “Connecticut’s Big Six,” said in a statement.

The group includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

“Unfortunately,” the group goes on, “we are witnessing confusion and misinformation about these standards that could prevent us from reaching these goals. Two measures being considered by the General Assembly will weaken or even halt the commitment Connecticut made to its children when it adopted the Common Core Standards. We must not let this happen.” 

The Taskforce’s Charge

Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce is being asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools and school districts across the state and nation.

Final recommendations are due no later than June 30, 2014, in time for the 2014-15 school year.

“We have an obligation to ensure that all children in the State of Connecticut receive a quality education that will provide them with the necessary tools to lead successful lives in today’s global economy,” Malloy said. “Seeking the input of the teachers and education professionals who are directly involved in the day-to-day activities of our public school system, along with parents, will help the state in our efforts to improve our schools.”

Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut, said, “The Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce is a validation of the voices of teachers, which have been united in calling for a course correction for the Common Core. We applaud the governor for creating an efficient approach that includes educator input to relieve the strain of transitioning to new standards in their classrooms.”

AFT Connecticut represents more than 29,000 professionals across the state, including PreK-12 teachers, paraeducators and education support personnel in 29 local and regional school districts.

Who Are the Taskforce Members?

In formulating the membership of the taskforce, the governor received recommendations from the American Federation of Teachers; CT Education Association; CT Association of School Administrators; CT Association of Schools; CT Association of Public School Superintendents; CT Association of Boards of Education; CT Teachers of the Year Association; the CT Parent Teacher Student Association; legislators; and self-nominations from interested educators.

The members are as follows:

Twelve practicing teachers or education professionals who teach in elementary, middle or high school:

  • Erin Wilson, Elementary School Teacher, Hartford, Teacher of the Year Finalist [Co-Chair]
  • Juanita Harris, Special Education Teacher, Danbury
  • Andrea Middlebrooks, Life Sciences Middle School Teacher, Cromwell
  • Ken Daly, English and Language Arts High School Teacher, Wallingford
  • Bruce Yarnell, Special Education Middle School Teacher, Stonington
  • William McKinney, High School Teacher, New Haven
  • Patti Fusco, Elementary School Teacher, West Haven
  • Susan Schmidt, Elementary School Teacher, New Britain
  • Diana Burns, Elementary School Teacher, Westbrook
  • Sue Loud, Department Head for English & Social Studies, Eli Whitney Technical High School, Hamden
  • Barbara Johnson, Librarian/Elementary School, Colchester
  • Waiting for confirmation from member

Four principals from either an elementary, middle or high school:

  • Dr. Anne Jellison, Principal, Meriden
  • Anthony Ditrio, Principal, Norwalk
  • Vicki Reed, K-2 Principal, Wallingford
  • Edith Johnson, High School Principal, New Haven

Four superintendents or district curriculum leaders:

  • Nate Quesnel, Superintendent, East Hartford [Co-Chair]
  • Paula Talty, Superintendent, Cromwell
  • Sean McKenna, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Groton
  • Ivelise Velazquez, Director of Reading & Social Sciences, Windham

Two parents:

  • Candy Yeager, Stamford parent
  • Waiting for confirmation from member

Two members of local boards of education:

  • Don Harris, Chairman, Bloomfield Board of Education
  • Liz Brown, Waterbury Board of Education

The Chief Academic Officer of the State Department of Education:
Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Chief Academic Officer, State Department of Education

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