Rallying around the business of the Common Core

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In a continuing effort to be sure teachers have the "time, tools and trust" they need to successfully guide students to college and work, AFT president Randi Weingarten spoke at the GE Foundation Developing Futures in Education Summer Conference in Orlando, Fla., July 17, underscoring the importance of teacher voice in the Common Core State Standards implementation, describing the many AFT programs supporting the standards, and encouraging business leaders to support them by protecting resources for public schools.

Randi Weingarten at GE conference

Weingarten joined National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel in discussing the standards before more than 400 teachers, principals, union representatives and board of education members from seven states, where GE is funding Common Core implementation programs. The standards are key in leveling the playing field for all children, Weingarten said: "In my lifetime, I would like to see a standards movement that works not just for rich kids, but for all kids."

In addition to the teacher input that helped create the Common Core standards, Weingarten suggested that teacher surveys would ensure that implementation is also meaningful. "We need to ... see what works, we need to fund it, sustain it and ensure the leaders in the classroom are driving it."

At another conference presentation, Weingarten and Van Roekel told 140 business leaders from top U.S. companies about the pivotal role teachers play in the economic health of the nation, and answered questions about how business can support education. "Shout out about what's wrong," Weingarten told them. "Do what is right. Find allies and make alliances. Together, we can make sure public education is the pillar of our democracy, and we will be able to look back 10 years from now and say, 'We helped raise a nation.' "

The GE conference also included background on Common Core, presented by its authors; training sessions for teachers learning to unpack Common Core standards; and informational sessions for principals, central office personnel and other stakeholders. [Virginia Myers, Jessica Smith/photo by Octavian Cantilli]

July 19, 2012