Weingarten: Common Core implementation ‘far worse’ than Obamacare rollout

Randi Weingarten. (Center for American Progress.)
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WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten blasted New York's and other states' implementation of the rigorous Common Core standards at a gathering of education reporters here on Monday.

“You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse,” said Weingarten, the former head of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, at the National Education Writers Association conference at George Washington University.

Weingarten, who has led calls for temporary moratoriums on attaching high stakes to Common Core-aligned exams, said New York's rollout of the standards left little time for schools to develop local curricula, leading superintendents to rely upon state-provided lesson plans.

“Here's 500 pages. Just do it,” Weingarten said, mimicking what she argues is superintendents' message to teachers in New York.

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Weingarten said she supports shifting to the Common Core standards, which aim to boost college- and career-readiness by focusing on critical thinking and problem solving skills. But she said states implementing the Common Core are focusing so intensively on preparing students for testing that they ignore other important subjects and activities, like music, art and recess.

“Standardized testing is not synonymous with accountability,” she said. “The testing is not the reform. The reform should be, are we teaching in a different way to do this instructional shift? The conversation nationally has made standardized testing synonymous with the reform.”

State Education Commissioner John King has argued unions' calls for a moratorium in New York are a “distraction” from the important work of improving student outcomes. He stressed that statewide and local teachers' unions were on board when the state decided to adopt the Common Core while also implementing teacher evaluations.

“[New York State United Teachers] has been very supportive of the Common Core and understands that the Common Core is critical to help students be better prepared for college and career readiness,” King said Oct. 15. “So I think the key thing now is to move the work forward, to continue to provide the support and professional development, and I think revisiting the agreement that we all made is a distraction at this point.”