Common Core is what’s best for the children

March 3, 2014 

What’s best for the children?

This is a copy of a letter sent last week to the S.C. Senate subcommittee on education:

The Fort Mill School District has been in the process of implementing the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) for almost four years. Our employees have spent many hours on this transition, and our board has willingly funded additional training for our staff in support of this process. This year we are beginning to see the positive results of our hard work.

Over the past couple of months our board, our employees, and our district have come under attack from anti-CCSS groups. While they are advocating local control, they are being heavily organized and supported by outside influences. Our district has no intention of entering into this political battle based on ideological rhetoric or alleged conspiracy theories. Our support of CCSS is being guided by the one principle we use in every decision we make: What is best for our children?

The anti-CCSS groups would have you believe that teachers and educators are opposed to this change, but are afraid to say anything. To insure this was not the case, we conducted an anonymous survey of our staff regarding their views about CCSS. A summary is shown below, but should you desire additional supporting data, we would be glad to provide you with whatever you need.

• 459 of 792 teachers responded for a 58 percent response rate. Note: This is the highest response rate we have ever had on an internal survey.

• 80 percent of all teachers responding and 96 percent of our ELA and math teachers have read and understand the CCSS.

• 80 percent of our teachers feel supported or strongly supported in the implementation of CCSS. Only 2.6 percent feel no support.

• 92 percent of our elementary level and 100 percent of our middle level math and ELA teachers believe that CCSS are more demanding and contain more rigor than our old standards

• 82 percent of our elementary and middle school teachers believe CCSS will result in improved student learning; 8 percent are unsure; and only 10 percent do not feel CCSS will result in improved learning.

We believe the results in the above summary indicate we are definitely headed in the right direction. We have some of the finest teachers in the country working in our district, and our respect for their views regarding these new standards continues to garner our unequivocal support for this positive transition.

I encourage you to view this issue in the same light that we do: What is best for our children? The standards that we use to educate the children in our schools today are going to determine whether they have the ability to successfully compete in a global job market in a few short years. Are we going to have an educated workforce that can function in the high tech jobs that our state is currently attracting? CCSS should not be an issue wrought with political rhetoric, half-true sound bites, and conspiracy theories. It should be an issue that is effectively addressing the continued economic viability of our state’s workforce. If you have any questions for our district, or need any additional information, please let me know.

Patrick M. White

Chairman of the Fort Mill School District Board of Trustees

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