So I’m now seen as a “Common Core” advocate. I’m “one of those” people. I’m not sure what that means to the people who use the term. Common Core may be the most convoluted and twisted term of our generation. As a person who speaks and writes in support or defense of a cause, let me be clear about that which I support.
1. I support and more to the point believe it is my responsibility to lead so that we have a school system that has systems in place to ensure that ALL students are taught to the same high standards. That system can’t be one in which each teacher reads and interprets standards independently, plans a curriculum and lessons independently of every other teacher, and then modifies and adapts the curriculum independently based on her own hunches or feelings.
A school SYSTEM that’s healthy, coherent and cohesive puts systems into place to ensure that all teachers and administrators work together to read and analyze standards, design curriculum across and between grade levels and modifies and adapts curriculum based on data that is both anecdotal and performance and test assessed. And the systems we put into place make this a cycle of analysis and continuous improvement. We’re better together than we are apart.
2. I support and believe it is my responsibility to lead so that we have a school system in which every child receives the support he needs to learn. That support, individualized and differentiated, is meant for students at all levels from our most disadvantaged students to our most advanced. We must create schools, with systems in place, in which all students are supported through adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction. I’ve spoken about this many times in the past; we will never be able to truly challenge all students if do not embrace computer based solutions in a blended learning environment in which we use artificial intelligence (AI) learning solutions to supplement more traditional (and important!) learning opportunities.
3. I support and believe that school leadership must be first and foremost about instructional leadership. It’s the core of why we exist in the first place and we’ve left it last on our list of priorities for far too long as we’ve managed our buildings and districts.
4. I support and believe in our children. They deserve our very best and our best hasn’t been good enough for all children. We must expect more of ourselves and show children that we expect the best of them. We must raise our expectations for all children. Of 431 districts in upstate New York, Randolph is ranked #20 for poverty rate (#1 being the highest) and yet we have shown consistently for 3-4 years now that our children are capable of achieving so much more than ever before in our history as a district. Other districts have proven this before us–my most fervent belief is that we MUST show our children that we believe in them, in their intellect and ability, their strength and potential, especially when they don’t believe in themselves. We must show them that they can be more than their current circumstances.
I know there are school districts across this state in which children have done well for generations. That’s not true for all school districts and all children. Children are not inherently bad or good, smart or stupid. They are, however, often advantaged or disadvantaged. Public education can be the game changer for every child. It was for me. I am an advocate for every child’s ability to learn and grow and become more than perhaps anyone expects. I am that child grown and educated to have become more than anyone would have expected. I’m here to make it happen for every child in our system.