Ronnie G. Coffman
Support Common Core Standards
This year I began my 26th year as an English teacher in the Athens City Schools, and I am finishing my 32nd year of teaching. After reading the misinformation being imputed to the Common Core Standards, I felt that I should add my voice as one who has read the standards from kindergarten through grade 12.
These standards are similar to the ones that we currently teach. The three major additions are to make students read better and build knowledge, to analyze arguments and write responses with evidence, and to understand more complex vocabulary.
We have just evaluated new textbooks for reading and literature. If a person were to scan the table of contents, he or she would see classic American authors. Names such as Edward Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Longfellow, Emerson, Poe, Lincoln, Dickinson, Twain, London, Hemingway, Hurston, Frost, and others are featured.
The major difference from our current text is that the questions force the students to go back to the story or poem for evidence for their answers. A simple “yes” or “no” answer will not be adequate.
One of the many teaching hats that I wear is that of a Bible teacher at Central Church of Christ. I went back and reread the standards to see if there were any concepts that I could not in good conscience use in my classroom. I did not find any. I did not find “imbedded extreme left wing, radical, socialist, atheist, progressive, communist ideals.” I am offended with the implication that I or my English colleagues would inculcate our students with such an ideology.
Our students in Athens get their first shot at scholarship money through the ACT. I take this very seriously and seek to prepare my students to do their very best in English and reading. I want them to knock their scores out of the ballpark! The ACT will be aligned with the Common Core Standards, which have been adopted by 45 states. If I am not allowed to teach this more rigorous material, then where will that leave my students and their parents in the hunt for tuition money?
Alabama has made great strides in educational excellence. Let’s go forward, not backward.