The follow is a letter from State Rep. Melissa Ziobron, who represents East Haddam, to constituents regarding the Common Core:
I have been hearing from parents, teachers, students and even Board of Education members who are concerned about the aspects of Common Core in their schools. Parents have sent me detailed information regarding a variety of issues that they have with the standards that are greatly impacting their children. I have been appreciative of their efforts of keeping me informed. As a mother to a high school student, I am also concerned.
Recently I attended a CEA Regional teachers meeting where I met with teachers from around Middlesex County, including East Hampton and East Haddam. I heard first time teachers tell their story--that they might be giving up on teaching because frankly they are losing they excitement they once had for changing kids lives. Instead it has been replaced with stress over "observation sequences" and they are afraid of taking risks with bringing forward new ideas for fear of not making the grade in their evaluations. Now instead of taking hours to prepare new and exciting material in their classroom they are spending 4-5 hours preparing lessons that encompass 45 minutes of teaching time-- which are dedicated to testing. Teachers with 20 years are telling me they feel trapped, because it is too late for them to change careers. Guidance counselors are spending more time counseling teachers, instead of students. Bloomboard has begun to be the focus of their preparation time, not child centered learning. Music teachers are spending time developing writing goals for their students and less time on music. PE teachers are going to the library once a month with their kids to evaluate their writing skills, which means less time on personal fitness. Administrators are getting crushed over the amount of paperwork needed to evaluate teachers and are spending less time on mentoring them. Teachers are telling me that want to be evaluated fairly and the librarian is asking "how does my role fit the evaluation model?" The 100 teachers in attendance cried, yelled, begged and demanded to know why. I am fearful of what effect this has had on all the students and parents are sharing that same concern with me.
I am listening. I am also preparing legislation to affect the implementation of standards in Connecticut. I am not alone, just recently my friend and colleague, who is a ranking member of the Education Committee is leading the way. In fact, Rep. Marilyn Giuliano is hosting a conversation on Common Core which I will be attending with some parents from East Haddam. I will be bringing a similar community conversation to the 34th District in the next month as well. As a member of the Appropriations Committee I will do what I can to support legislation that helps our students and those that we trust to teach them.
I just recently learned the Superintendent of East Hampton schools will be hosting a"Superintendent's Forum on the Common Core & Smarter Balance Assessment" which will be held on January 30th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the East Hampton Middle School and it is open to the public. I will be attending and I encourage you to be as well.
In East Haddam there has also been vocal issues with the morale at the schools. Last week, I was given a copy of a climate survey, outlining teachers issues there. While some of the information on it may be district specific, it also speaks to the frustration of Common Core statewide. I know one friend who is a teacher outside of East Haddam told me that "this very well could be applied to my district and that of many other communities in Connecticut". I am not a teacher, but I will let you be the judge of that. If you would like a copy see this link: http://thehaddams-killingworth.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/climate-change-has-come-to-east-haddam-schools
I have until February 7th to complete my legislation request and in the meantime I will be doing additional research and listening to you. Please contact my office if you have any questions or would like to provide me with additional information.www.repziobron.com
I am listening, but more importantly, I am prepared to do something with your support.