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Richard Kirby, 6th grade teacher, talks about the Common Core and parents’ response at Alton Central School

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Here is Richard Kirby, who teaches 6th grade math and social studies at Alton Central School, the single school in the Alton school district recently famous for voting to “reject” the Common Core.  A second Alton teacher chimes in at the end.


I’m Richard Kirby and I teach at Alton Central School…We’re supported by our Superintendent and by the Principal, but the School Board are the ones who are missing the point. …And they don’t know…we’ve been working on the Common Core for a few years …, putting everything together.

…the Common Core just clarifies things. It makes it easier for me as a teacher.

…what it does is it gives the parents a clearer idea and, to me, that’s really important because we’re not going to get anywhere if we don’t have parents onboard.

…we’ve written “I Can” statements…based on the Common Core, which we hand out to the parents…for parent teacher conferences and open-house…..

[How do parents respond?]  It’s a, it’s a mixture….You’re going to have parents that say, “Yes, I want you…to challenge the kids.”

And then you have parents saying, “Geez, my kid’s always got A’s in math before! What’s happening now?”  “Well, we weren’t challenging him before.”

[How’s it going?]  Well, it takes us a while to get through things. There’s a lot of explaining and a lot more modeling of..what exactly we’re looking for. And for certain kids it’s definitely a challenge. Some kids accept that challenge.

(Second Teacher) I’m also from Alton. I’m an educator. I don’t get it politically….I’m still teaching…the nuts and bolts of math… I’m still teaching algebraic concepts….I don’t get what the big fuss is about and maybe I’m too much of an educator and not enough of a politician.

…if we get worried about the politics and what people think, we’ll never do it right.

But it is really important to engage parents.  In our town…we did getting a committee of parents together – and not just the parents of the great learners but also reluctant learners – and we looked at the standards.

So the bottom line is that you have to be brave. You have to just keep doing what you’re doing.

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