21st Century Learning Standards

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John King, New York State Education Commissioner.
John King, New York State Education Commissioner.

Article Contributed by
Jamestown Gazette Staff

On Wednesday, December 4 New York State Education Commissioner, John King, and Robert Bennett New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Emeritus, Robert Bennett, came to Jamestown in a continuing effort to gain greater public acceptance for the 21st Century Learning Standards, also known as the Common Core learning standards. The standards are being implemented in 45 states of the nation for all grades from pre-K through grade 12 with various degrees of success, acceptance and controversy.

After visiting classrooms in Percell Middle School, Fletcher Elementary School and Jamestown High School and attending a press conference for Western New York media King and Bennett met with about 1000 parents, teachers and students for a town meeting at the high school.

Now three years into a seven-year implementation plan, Common Core in Jamestown appears to have met about the same mix of alarm and acceptance as it has elsewhere. While King stressed his conviction that the new curriculum is raising standards and achievement levels, the majority in attendance expressed grave doubts that the ends justified the means. Many stated a belief that the program began untested and continues ill advised.

King said that some portions of the curricula and testing regimens have already been modified in response to complaints, but he refused to consider deviating from the main program. Stating that most community college students in New York require remedial courses before they can even begin college-level work, he contended that any change to the Common Core Curriculum would be a lowering of standards which are already too low.

The meeting provided a forum for citizens to voice a broad spectrum of opinions, from strong approval through intense disagreement with the Common Core. The session concluded, however, with little indication that anyone had been persuaded to a different view. Implementation of Common Core Curriculum will continue, according to King and Bennett who predict higher student achievement levels as teachers and parents increase their skills and compliance with the program.