Governor Jack Markell today joined Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) Governors' Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and the Hunt Institute to launch an effort supporting the goals of the Common Core State Standards. Rather than creating a new entity, their partnership for higher standards is designed to help bring together leaders and organizations that are advocating for raising education standards and improving student achievement.
Alongside former Governor Jim Douglas (R-VT), who represented BPC, and Cheryl Oldham, Vice President for Education Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Markell announced the initiative at Lancashire Elementary School, where the group also visited a first grade English and fifth grade math class to experience lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Also in attendance was a representative from The Hunt Institute, an organization based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that works to improve outcomes of students in the country's public education system.
"Leaders who believe in higher standards for our students must invest the time and effort into communicating about why they are important and giving our hardworking educators the support they need to raise expectations in their classrooms," said Markell. "The fact is that despite all of the resources at our country's disposal, our students are not keeping up -- not because they don't have the talent, but in part because we haven't pushed them to gain the skills they need to make the most of their abilities.
"That is why we are here as Governors, as advocates for our business community and as champions of quality education, joining together to do everything we can to keep the push for higher standards on track."
Markell also noted that while more than 60 percent of our jobs will require education or training beyond high school, fewer than half of our students who graduate high school are ready to take those next steps.
"My fellow members of the Bipartisan Policy Center Governors' Council -- liberal Democrats to conservative Republicans -- are united and unwavering in our support of higher standards," said Douglas. "All of our states adopted the Common Core when we were in office because we were concerned about the same things: the inability of our children to compete in the global economy and the slow intrusion of the federal government into state education policy. That's why we developed a state solution to raising the bar for our kids, and why we're joining Governor Markell to support our colleagues across the country in keeping the effort moving forward."
Participants spoke about two principal goals. First, they are committed to publicizing the facts about the importance of higher standards and challenging misinformation about what the higher standards mean by demonstrating the positive impact Common Core has made in classrooms.
Second, they want to help states through the difficult process of raising expectations for students at each grade level. This assistance could include: providing states with online resources to inform the public, highlighting effective community outreach methods, and sharing models of how states can successfully teach the standards --- such as ways to bring together the best teachers across districts to share strategies, curriculum, and lesson plans.
This effort was previewed last month in a Bloomberg op-ed by Governor Markell and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a member of the BPC's Governors' Council. Markell and Perdue co-chaired the Common Core initiative.
"If we put the focus on the great work being done to implement Common Core in classrooms across the U.S., instead of debating abstract political rhetoric, we will give our students the opportunities they deserve," they wrote.
The partnership stems out of Governors Markell and Perdue wanting to keep the push for higher standards on track amidst the proliferation of misinformation and concerns about Common Core implementation. They see this as a pivotal moment for Common Core and want to do what they can to unite supporters to show how the standards are helping students.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was started to establish a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics. The standards, developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the Council of Chief State School Officers, teachers and education experts, are designed by to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce. The standards, which 45 states adopted voluntarily, are clear and concise to ensure that parents, teachers, and students have a clear understanding of the expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language and mathematics in school.