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Our View: Educate yourself about Common Core: Erie-Times News
Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:49 AM

Do you have questions about the Common Core standards? You likely do, because the plan to raise academic standards for American students is in the spotlight and stirring up controversy.

Washington Post columnist George Will slammed the initiative in his Jan. 17 column, claiming that Common Core "is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of generalization and uniformity." But Will fails to explain why business leaders, including those at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, support the voluntary standards, and he ignores the issue that prompted business leaders to work with educators to create the Common Core -- the fact that American students lag behind their international peers in math, literacy, science and other disciplines.

Conservative columnist Michael Gerson takes the opposite position of Will. Claims that Common Core is an attempt by the federal government to intrude into local education are "mostly a projection of baseless political fears," Gerson wrote on May 24.

Kudos, then, to Erie Together, the Erie School District, Gannon University, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, United Way of Erie County and GE for sponsoring a free panel discussion on this topic. The program, "College and Career Readiness: The Common Core and What it Means to Our Employers," will be held Thursday from 7:45 to 9 a.m. at Gannon's Yehl Ballroom.

Mary Bula, the facilitator for Erie Together, the local anti-poverty initiative, will lead the discussion with panelists Keith Taylor, Gannon president; Jay Badams, Erie schools superintendent; Nancy Sadaly, Erie schools assistant superintendent; and five Erie School District educators: Colleen Holmes, instructional coordinator for literacy; Anna Wieczorek, instructional coach for math; Eric Sandberg, instructional coach for science; Tammie Smith, director of secondary education; and Karin Ryan, McKinley Elementary School principal.

Panelists will give a broad overview of Common Core but also zero in on how the standards will be used in the Erie district. "All Erie students deserve an education that prepares them for college, careers and life," said Matthew Cummings, the school district's director of communications. "The best way to prepare students for life after high school is to ensure that they graduate with a strong foundation in the core academic areas that will leave all doors open in the future," he said.

In an Aug. 22 Guest Voice column, Thomas J. Donahue, president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, explained why their organizations support the Common Core standards. "Common Core is an elevated set of standards -- not a curriculum. It focuses on the building blocks of learning, such as reading and math, and is designed to be applicable in the real world -- namely, college or career," they wrote.

Visit to learn more. Visit to register in advance, which is required. The deadline is today.


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