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Questioning Support of Common Core

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On June 18th, The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted Randi Weingarten, the current president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Engaging in a conversation with Frederick Hess, AEI’s director of education policy studies, Weingarten firstly shared with the audience that the need for debate—a dialogue with different people.

As it currently stands, the AFT union is comprised of about 1.5 million members including K-12 educators, administrators, and guidance counselors. According to Weingarten, unions are not monolithic. Members are not shy to share their opinions on what they may like or dislike concerning the education system. They engage in debate, or as Weingarten would say: “conversation.”

During her conversation with Hess at AEI, Weingarten spoke to an issue that has remained at the center of educational debate for more time than it should: Should schools keep or disregard the Common Core?

Although Weingarten did not reply with a resounding “yes,” her anecdote showcases that she is an advocate for the standards. Before Weingarten was a teacher, she served as a lawyer. With that professional backing, she can now confidently say that the Common Core would have helped far more than any tool could to teach students the importance of civics, the Bill of Rights, and things related to the American governmental system.

At Clara Barton High School, Weingarten notes that the majority of students were from African-American and Latino backgrounds; she remembered them hating her for the manner in which she taught. Weingarten then witnessed them engaging in debate and intellectual conversation and she watched their self-esteem grow. In her words, they went from an attitude of “no-no-no!” to a determination that exclaimed, “yes-yes-yes!” Weingarten believes that if we can get the strategies right on how to teach kids intellectually and the best way to overcome resistance, then kids will be able to

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The Conclusion to an Educational Journey

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Three weeks ago I was starting my first day at the Center for Education Reform (CER), and now I’m concluding my experience with the organization. My experience with CER has been educational and I have acquired more knowledge about the education field as a result. My daily task included uploading information from articles that were sent to my email daily into CER database. Everyday I learned something new, whether it was a school facing closure, a new policy being introduced, teachers being evaluated, or even the teachers union advocating for what they believe in. As a junior in high school I’m used to loud students on a daily basis but at CER the environment is completely professional; and I soon caught on to what the adult work environment is like.

During my second week at the organization all of the interns had a pizza lunch, in which they gave me advice on college and answered any questions of mine. Today is my last day and I am thankful for having the opportunity to complete a fellowship at CER. My knowledge about education has increased since being at CER but now my time at the organization has come to an end, and everything that I have learned about education will be displayed this upcoming year when I complete my senior thesis assignment. Senior thesis is a requirement for graduation and the main assignments include a fifteen-page paper on a public policy topic as well as a presentation. I look forward to completing my thesis on a topic that revolves around education because I can apply everything that I have learned while working with CER. Thanks for everything Center for Education Reform!

Imani Jenkins, César Chávez Charter School Fellow


The World Cup and Education: A Common Bond

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The 1990 World Cup in Italy marked the first time in 40 years that the U.S. Men’s National Team played in soccer’s biggest international tournament.

Over the last two decades, the U.S. has played in every World Cup since, and draws in record ratings as many Americans rediscover their newfound interest in soccer every four years.

And during that time, some American soccer players such as Landon Donovan or Alexi Lalas have become more or less household names. Based on the absolutely ankle-shattering move to facilitate the first goal against Ghana in the US opening match, Clint Dempsey is probably next in line.

Like American interest in soccer, education reform policies have also taken shape over the last couple of decades, from the increasing popularity in opportunity scholarship programs, http://www.edreform.com/2013/12/americas-attitudes-towards-education-reform-public-support-for-accountability-in-schools/ to the increased foothold of charter schools. While parental interest in their child’s education is nothing new, parents and community members have taken a newfound consideration in how these new innovations can boost opportunities for students.

As the U.S. team and individual players continue to gain traction in the eyes of the American public, so have large and small charter operators and school choice movements across the states. http://www.edreform.com/in-the-states/map/

Many Americans view the game of soccer as a slog. It’s a drawn out, seemingly futile exercise that stays the same for most of the time, with intermittent bursts of excitement and success.

Those who have tried — and continue to try – to create choice and accountability in schools can likely relate to the sentiment that comes with efforts of trying to shake up an otherwise static system.

Soccer and education share a common notorious bond in the sense that both contain an inordinate amount of players who flop and then feign injury to gain unfair advantages against those who flat out play better.


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