Thursday, August 14, 2014

A letter to the Governor

I usually don't write about things that are "political" in nature... I prefer to stick to the happy side of life in first grade. But I feel like this is important, so I am going to sneak this post in here and see what happens. Don't hate me if you disagree :) We all have the right to our opinion! :) #America

I recently heard that, here in Utah, our Governor is getting HUNDREDS of emails every day from people who are asking him to do away with the "Utah Core Standards" (which is what we call the Common Core here in Utah). This is because people are saying things like "Government shouldn't dictate what our children learn" or calling it the "Communist Core" (insert eye rolling here) or saying it is "new math" or "too difficult".  Ugh.  It makes me sad.

A friend told me that she was going to send her own email to the Governor and I decided to take that challenge, too.  I sent it along, and I received a response from one of his lovely staff members.  Since it's a matter of public record anyway, I thought I would post what I wrote to the Governor of the State of Utah. 

I have two hopes with this-- first, if you have an opinion, please share it with your leaders. This is a critical time in education.  Second, if you are one of the people that are just listening to what the naysayers are shouting, please take some time to get educated... and consider what kind of "tomorrow" you want.

Dear Governor,

I am a first grade teacher at a public elementary school in West Valley City. 

I am writing to you about the Utah Core Standards-- also known as the Common Core. 
 
It would be a huge disservice to the students of the great state of Utah if the Utah Core Standards were no longer taught here.  For the first time, Utah is being held to the highest standards when it comes to what our kids are being taught.  Utah's students are being taught to think critically, have opportunities for constructive struggling, and they are being expected to build both a conceptual understanding as well as a procedural understanding.  It is amazing.  What the students in my class have been able to do since we started teaching the Utah Core Standards, is A-MA-ZING! 

I had an opportunity to work for the State Office of Education, training teachers in the Utah State Standards of Mathematics via Core Academy a few summers ago.  It was an incredible opportunity that enabled me to travel around the state and interact with teachers.  Every teacher I met was nervous at first-- but it did not take long for them to catch the vision.  This Core will help create a world full of THINKERS!  Take a look at the Mathematical Practices, as you read them, consider what these skills would do for our world:

Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Attend to precision.
Look for and make use of structure.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.
              (Taken from http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice/)
I want to live in a world where everyone can do those things.  They maybe called "Mathematical Practices" but they are LIFE SKILLS.  If we teach our children to think this way, it will transfer to how they live. What an empowering thing it is-- to truly learn to think!
 
The people writing to you asking for your support in getting rid of the Core are doing so out of fear.  Often people have heard misinformation and it has caused fear for them.  Instead of working to learn and understand, they are working to eliminate the perceived threat.  It is unfortunate.  I would love to see you providing an opportunity for the people advocating for the removal of the Core to learn more about it-- factually.  Let them know that the Core is UNRELATED to the federal government-- that Utah made their own choice-- and that the origins of the Core actually can be traced back to GOVERNORS! :)  
 
I am truly appreciative of your time.  Please feel free to contact me with any other questions or comments.

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Okay, blog world.  Do with this as you please!
Leave a comment if you have something to say! :)
Happy Thursday!
Sarah

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