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Common Core, testing, 2016 election to be spotlighted at NEA convention

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Common Core, testing, 2016 election to be spotlighted at NEA convention
By Chris Lawrence, WV MetroNews

ORLANDO, Fla. — The pressing issues of public education will be at the forefront of discussion at the National Education Association’s 153rd meeting starting later this week in Orlando.

Some of West Virginia’s problems in education are likely to be discussed since they are problems shared by other states.  At the forefront of the discussion will be the Common Core Curriculum and how to best implement the next generation teaching standards.  The curriculum has been unpopular here and elsewhere, but West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee believes it’s a matter of misunderstanding and poor communication.

“Eighty percent of the standards of Common Core we were using in West Virginia before Common Core was introduced,” he said. “The problem is we haven’t trained the teachers well enough, we haven’t given them collaboration time, and the textbooks don’t really align with the curriculum we’re using. Once we get those problems solved, you’ll see those misconceptions go away.”

The goal is to have students learning at a certain pace no matter where they live or go to school.

It’s unlikely the 180 day calendar will be an issue of national discussion at the conference, but it has been at the forefront of conversation in West Virginia in recent days. Some counties are only now wrapping up their school year meeting the requirement of 180 instructional days. Lee says the approach is all wrong.

“It should be about quality time, not the quantity of time,” he said. “We need to do a better job of figuring out how we maximize our instructional time and do away with some of the nonsense testing we have to do.”

Schools reported percentage of attendance in the waning days deep into June in the single digits and many seniors graduated four weeks ahead of the end of the school year.

The 2016 election will also be a front burner issue for the teachers union.

“We have to identify friends of public education and help them get elected,” said Lee. “Once they are elected, we have to hold them accountable to [ensure] there’s a great public school for every child.  This is not a Democrat-Republican situation, it’s about getting friends who make an investment in our kids and in public education."