A sample Opinion Piece: Use as is; Cut and paste sections; create your own.
Common Core Standards and/or Pennsylvania State Standards and Our Community: AN OPEN INVITATION
In 2010 the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers developed Common Core Standards (CCS) educational reform Initiative. The Standards then were adopted by 40 states, including Pennsylvania. It was agreed state participation in Common Core was voluntary and that schools in each state would be able to design their own teaching to meet the standards. The goal of Common Core is to ensure that students will have what they need to be successful after high school—in college, in careers, in life.
On September 6, 2014 The Office of the Governor, Tom Corbett, announced that the Governor called for a continued public review of Pennsylvania-specific academic content in English language arts and mathematics standards from Kindergarten through 12th grade. “‘Though Common Core began as a state-led initiative to ensure our public schools met the educational standards needed in the 21st century economy, the process has been overly influenced by the federal government,’ Gov. Corbett said.” 1
At present the “Pennsylvania General Assembly is “actively engaged in working to eliminate Common Core through passage of House Resolution 338 that supports repeal efforts.” The goal is to replace these with a set of Pennsylvania State Specific Standards (PSSS).
As educator (provide identification) and member of AAUW, an organization whose mission is to break down barriers to equity for women and girls, I know that a set of high standards and expectations is essential to providing all students the foundation that gives them the best chance for future successes after their school years. I know that the development of strong critical thinking, literacy and mathematical skills and the ability to think analytically across disciplines are essential components of this foundation.
Whatever the source of educational standards—Common Core or Pennsylvania State-Specific standards, the standards and classroom expectations must be high. If the goals of high standards and classroom expectations are to be met, all members of a community from those who pay school taxes to parents of five-year-olds, employers of future graduates, colleges that will receive graduates must see themselves as stakeholders in this initiative. That is, we all must educate ourselves: What are the CCS Standards? What are the Pennsylvania State- Specific Standards? Do they meet benchmarked standards? How are they different? How are they the same? How are they being implemented? What role does testing play in implementation? What are the consequences for students? teachers? parents? How are districts paying for all that it takes to make this succeed? Most important, we must look close to home to ask and learn: What is happening with CCS and Pennsylvania State Specific Standards(PSSS) in our local school district?
How do we do this? A few suggestions:
- Parents might begin by asking their children’s teachers about CCS/PSSS at their next parent-teacher conferences.
- Our superintendent of schools might write an opinion editorial explaining CCS/PSSS as they apply to the district and follow up with status report pieces on Implementation and Assessment.
- School board members might hold a special, open mike meeting on CCS/PSSS for the community.
- PTO leaders could sponsor CCS/PSSS issues forums for parents and interested community members.
- Our local papers might invite submissions from all quarters on the topic for an edition of the paper featuring an editorial/letters to the editor section devoted exclusively to CSS/PSSS and Implementation.
- The local public service television/radio station(s) might put together a panel of stakeholders for one or more programs on this topic.
- Local civic organizations might devote a program this year to the topic.
For these to happen, though, many, many individuals in our community must decide that the issue of educational standards and expectations in our local schools is critical enough to the future of our children, our town, our state and our nation that we are prepared to ask for information, to speak out, and to act. And, we must begin NOW!
To learn more about Common Core Standards and Pennsylvania State-Specific Standards and Implementation in __________________ (Name your school district), plan to attend the AAUW- (name your branch )(program/issues forum/ panel discussion), open to the community on ______________. For further information, please contact _________________.
For more information
 Office of the Governor, Media contact: Tim Eller, Dept. of Education 717-783-9802