Educating, Engaging and Enlisting Parents around the Common Core

By Kelsey Pine, National Marketing & Communications Manager at Stand for Children

We support the Common Core because it is a clear, collaborative vision that identifies what students need to know to be successful in the 21st century.

Before 2010, a student in Montana would graduate from high school with a different set of knowledge and skills than a student in Massachusetts. That’s because each state has different academic standards, which are benchmarks telling students what they’re supposed to learn at each grade level. All of our children need to be better prepared for a rapidly changing workplace. But instead, rigor varies markedly across states and very few states have standards that prepare students for the evolving, technology-driven workforce. It is time we updated our approach so that students, no matter where they are across the nation, have a fair shot in our evolving world.

The Common Core is a leap forward for parents with children in school, yet very few understand what the Standards really are. In a recent poll of parents, we found that knowledge of the Common Core remains shallow. For those who have heard of it, many do not have an opinion about the Standards and even fewer know exactly what they are. We know that parents care deeply about their children and want them to succeed. The problem is the lack of information. For too long we’ve allowed parents and students to believe that a high school diploma is an indicator that a student is ready for college and career. The sad truth is it’s not (not even close). Our inability to act up until now has had a lasting impact on American students who cannot compete because their education failed them.

Armed with the right tools, parents will be able to hold their children to higher expectations to prepare them for success. We’ve broken it down into three easy steps for parents to engage in the discussion about the Common Core and ways to help at home and at school.

  •  ENGAGE: Fueled by the facts, get involved. Learn what your child is doing in school – what topics are they learning and what is the end goal? Spend time with them doing homework and ask critical questions that help them reach the goals of the Standards. Ask their teacher what they’re doing to implement the new Standards in the classroom.
  • ENLIST: Learn who your resources are in your neighborhood, district and state and enlist their support when you have questions. Do you know how your district is implementing the Standards and if time and resources are being funneled to the right area? Find other parents who are also willing to ask hard questions and support each other.

At Stand for Children, our organizers will be working on-the-ground to train parents on the fundamentals of Common Core and how they can get involved at home, at their child’s school, and within their school district. Training is not one-size fits-all, so we’re spending time and resources to ensure our materials resonate for parents in both English, Spanish and in varying districts across the country. We’ll be working with partner organizations to spread these trainings into areas where we don’t have organizers, broadening our reach and impact. On top of it all, we’re beginning work to build an online portal for parents to learn more and get tools in a fun, interactive and informational way.

We’re excited to continue sharing our work and tools as they are developed with you. If you want to find more about Stand for Children’s Common Core work, please contact me at kpine@stand.org.

Special thanks to the Council of the Great City Schools and CCSSI for the tools shared in this post.

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