Teachers Union Leader Likes Common Core

The head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers says he likes the standards of Common Core, but has some concerns about the way it's being rolled out in the state.

Dan Montgomery says the guidelines of the controversial educational system gives Illinois teachers clearer direction in the classroom compared with earlier state standards. For example, he says Common Core gives a suggested reading list to English teachers to help guide what may be most appropriate for students in any given grade level.

"It doesn't say you have to use them, but they say things like, 'here's a Shakespeare play that a kid should be able to read in tenth grade," Montgomery told 1470 & 100.3 WMBD.

He says the biggest complaint he's heard from teachers has surrounded the timetable of Common Core's implementation. Montgomery says he would've preferred giving educators more time to look at the standards, which he says are more rigorous than prior teaching guidelines.

"Standards aren't curriculum. They're just telling teachers about topics they need to hit. Once teachers see the standards, they have to rebuild their curricula," he said.

Opponents of Common Core say it flattens the learning curve too much for students, and doesn't encourage critical thinking. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union in May voted to oppose Common Core, saying the system focuses too much time on preparing students to take standardized tests.

Common Core, the brainchild of the National Governor's Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, aims to set consistent standards for math and English across the United States. Illinois adopted the standards in 2010, but they are just now truly being implemented in classrooms around the state, including those in Peoria School District 150.

44 states and the District of Columbia use Common Core. This year, Indiana formally withdrew, while Oklahoma and South Carolina repealed their adoption of it.

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