Board considers controversial ‘Common Core’ standards for TPS

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The Tecumseh Public Schools Board of Education declared informal support for the Common Core State Standards at Monday night’s regular meeting. Full endorsement of the standards will be taken up as an action item at a later meeting.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a benchmark for students in general subjects such as mathematics, language skills, writing, and critical thinking that has received widespread approval nationally by educators, has become a hot-button topic in some state legislatures, Michigan’s included. Governor Rick Snyder supports CCSS and the Michigan Department of Education voted unanimously in June of 2010 to adopt the standards, but many state school districts are waiting for controversy in the Michigan State Legislature to subside before making a decision to adopt it at the local level.

Supt. Kelly Coffin told the board to take the opportunity to review the CCSS resolution before taking action on it. “School boards across Michigan are letting their legislators know they are behind Common Core,” Coffin told the trustees during discussion of the issue.

“Very conservative politicians are wary of the possible loss of local control of curriculum,” trustee Jim Rice said. “Personally, I don’t understand their logic. What’s the problem with a student from Tecumseh, Michigan, being able to transfer to Fayette, South Carolina, and finding a similar curriculum?”

Currently, state schools have been using the Michigan Merit Curriculum, which aligns with the CCSS in most respects, so the adoption of the broader CCSS would not compromise the standards already in place, according to proponents of the national standard.

Another argument from critics of the CCSS is that it would be a step away from local control of curriculum planning, but as the resolution under consideration by the Tecumseh School Board points out, “Michigan school districts have already begun to implement the Common Core State Standards and abandoning the implementation of the standards will lead to confusion for teachers and students as to what is expected of them.”

The Tecumseh resolution also notes that “local school districts will continue to control the textbooks, educational materials and instructional methods used by teachers to teach at or above the level of rigor required by the Common Core State Standards.”

Board President Ed Tritt said that he sees no problem with national standards for students as long as local control of how curricula are designed and taught remains in place. He requested that the resolution for approval by the Tecumseh board be placed on the agenda as an action item for the next meeting of the trustees, Monday, Sept. 9.

Michigan was one of 44 states that accepted the national standards proposed by the CCSS, but a number of State Legislators called for hearings to review that decision with the intention of opting out. More information on CCSS is available at www.michi-gan.gov/mde.

In other discussion by the board Monday night trustees heard a report from the facilities and grounds committee meeting. During that report, a question was raised about the policy of allowing sports teams to use the football field for practice. Tritt questioned whether that policy unnecessarily shortened the life expectancy of the artificial turf. “What can we do to extend the life of the turf as much as possible?” he asked.

Todd Thieken, director of curriculum and technology, who is also a football coach, assured Tritt that the turf was in no danger of wearing out. Thieken said that 2009 was the first year the turf was used, and it is still under a ten-year warranty. He added that before the turf was installed, other schools with the same turf were consulted. “It’s the best turf available,” he told the board. “There’s a school in Pennsylvania that we talked to that had been using theirs for 12 or 13 years, and it was still in good shape.”

The board also took action on a leave request and four resignations, approving all unanimously. The leave request was for a Tecumseh Middle School orchestra leader from October 28, 2013, through Jan. 15, 2014; and the resignations were from two Patterson Elementary School noon supervisors, a secretary at Sutton Elementary School, and an instructional assistant at Tecumseh Middle School.

In her report to the board, Supt. Coffin said that she was very pleased with the efforts of the strategic planning committee that met over the course of three days totaling more than 19 hours last week. The committee updated and revised the plan that had been in place for the district for several years.

“We had a great turnout and great participation from the committee,” Coffin said. “We will be submitting it to the board for the second meeting of September for your consideration.”

During the Good News portion of the meeting, trustees heard from Matt and Maura Rains who conducted “Kids for Kids,” a summer program to keep students up to speed academically to be ready for the beginning of school. The Rains financed the program themselves, including purchasing the materials and hiring a teacher to conduct the classes that were held at Tecumseh District Library. The Rains coordinated the program with the help of Sutton/Patterson principal Deb Langmeyer, and the participants were treated to a hot dog party at Patterson last week to celebrate their accomplishment.




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