Senator Maria Cantwell’s response to email about Common Core stating “Separate standards for ELL and students with disabilities”

A fellow group member in the fight to Stop Common Core State Standards in WA contacted Senator Maria Cantwell via email and received quite an interesting response. Here it is:

Dear Mr. _,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the adoption of the Common Core state standards in Washington state . I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

As you may know, the Common Core state standards were developed by the National Governors Association, in conjunction with the Council of Chief State School Officers. Over the past 14 months, teachers, school administrators, education experts and governors have worked tirelessly to develop rigorous standards that are robust, and relevant to the real world. The Common Core state standards reflect the knowledge and skills that our young people will need to be college and career ready, and competitive in a 21 st century economy.

These standards, which have already been adopted in 27 states, set forth certain benchmarks in English and math curriculums that students in grades K-12 should meet. These include targets such as expecting fifth grade students to be able to add and subtract fractions with different denominators. Separate standards have also been established for English Language Learning (ELL) students and students with disabilities.

I understand that you may have particular concerns that these standards will undermine state standards, and result in the establishment of a national curriculum for our schools. I also believe that specific curriculum choices should be left to local teachers, principals and superintendents , and I am pleased that the Common Core standards allow local districts and teachers the flexibility to determine how to best meet these standards. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans, and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classroom by crafting their own curriculums. Moreover, states that adopt the Common Core standards may also create additional standards that go beyond what is outlined in the Common Core.

You may be interested to learn that Washington State adopted the Common Core state standards on July 19, 2010, and began the transition to the standards in April 2011. During the 2011-12 school year , the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and statewide educational partners, began key transitional activities that included forming advisory groups and developing regional support structures and materials. Students will continue to be tested on Washington’s 2005 reading and writing standards, and on the 2008 mathematics standards through the 2013-14 school year . Testing on Washington’s common core state standards for English language arts and math will occur in the 2014-15 school year.

Please be assured that I will monitor the implementation of these standards, and will keep your thoughts in mind.

Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell

United States Senator

I am not sure if the Senator strategically chose her words or if it was a simple matter of an ill-chosen word, either way she clearly states that “I also believe that specific curriculum choices should be left to local teachers, principals and superintendents, and I am pleased that the Common Core standards allow local districts and teachers the flexibility to determine how to best meet these standards.” Hmm so is she saying that she feels the local teachers, principals, and superintendents should have control over curriculum choices, or is she saying she is not sure if they will? I guess our local government and representatives are just as confused and out-of-the-loop as the rest of us.

That aside though, there is one big statement that leaps off of the paper for me, “Separate standards have also been established for English Language Learning (ELL) students and students with disabilities.” This has been a huge question in my mind for months and it looks like soon, us special education parents, will have answers that we may not like. A separate set of standards, if I was not motivated to attend my district’s upcoming Special Education PTSA open parent informational meeting regarding the upcoming accommodation changes for special needs students, I am now. The meeting in which I am referring is for the Seattle School District on Wednesday 5/15/13 @ 7:00 PM in the John Stanford building in Seattle. I look forward to getting answers and hopefully getting my voice heard.

I will update everyone after Wednesdays meeting, and believe, I will be recording and taking notes!

If you are not in Seattle, please don’t hesitate to contact your local school district to find out the dates of any upcoming meetings regarding special ed, common core, or strategic planning and please email us here at stopcommoncorewa@gmail.com or leave the meeting info as a comment on this post so that we can spread the word!

Stay informed WA!!

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