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Part of the mission of the Put Our Children 1st campaign is to facilitate an understanding of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in simple terms. Over the past year, we have been concerned about the propensity to mislabel CCSS as a federal dictation of curriculum across the nation. The truth, however, is stated in the name itself: “standards.”

Simply put, the CCSS are guidelines. Teachers are free to create the curriculums and lesson plans that work best for their students so that they are excited and engaged in the learning process, and challenged in the classroom.

We believe that all children can do well in school when given the proper environment, resources, and supports. CCSS is only a beginning, and a guide, rather than a dictum. Further means of assisting children to reach and surpass the new standards can include enhancements such as regular in-school “clinics” with math and language experts, after-school homework clubs, and of course, teacher training and support.

Educational expert Linda Darling-Hammond sits on the Gordon Commission, which is charged with evaluating the implementation of national educational assessment policy, practice and technology, including the CCSS. She recently co-authored an essay with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one that tracks the roll-out of Common Core to date. They said:

“Implementing the standards well will not be accomplished by targets and sanctions. It will require more adequate and equitable resources and greater investments in professional capacity, especially for currently underfunded schools that serve the highest-need students. This, equitable implementation of standards, then – more than concerns about the rigors of the tests – will be what makes or breaks the Common Core mold.”

There is a lot that we know about the failures of education, particularly for the underserved. We know that classrooms are overcrowded, resources cut, crucial elements like recess and lunchtimes trimmed, and teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof further outlines how these failures have led to America’s lower standing on global education scales.

While no one program or initiative can address all of these challenges, Kristof aptly frames the urgency to act: “Fixing the education system is the civil rights challenge of our era. A starting point is to embrace an ethos that was born in America but is now an expatriate: that we owe all children a fair start in life in the form of access to an education escalator.” The equitable implementation of Common Core standards allows our children to begin this journey.

For more information on the campaign and Common Core, visit or check out NewsOne’s section on education and the Common Core.

Watch PSAs about the Common Core here.