Tomorrow I am speaking to the NV Legislature on the Assembly Bill 303 (pdf text) that would eliminate the end of course exams that I don’t like, but would also eliminate the Common Core State Standards from all NV schools.
Can I complain for a second on how difficult it is to give a 3 minute speech? OMG! My first draft was around 8 minutes long, and I finally have it down to 3 minutes on the dot. Below is the text of my speech. If you have any suggestions, I am open to tweaking or rewriting. I leave tomorrow at 2 pm for Carson City!
There may also be an opportunity to be on a local PBS channel show about this bill as well. Who would have guessed that I would have spent this year’s spring break in political advocacy? Not this guy, that is for sure.
For the record, my name is Glenn Waddell, Jr., and I am the department chair and teacher of AP Statistics and Algebra 2 Honors at North Valleys High School. Chair Woodbury and members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to address you today and explain why I oppose the sections of AB 303 that delete reference to the common core. I NEED the core standards to be an effective educator. Most importantly, my learners need the common core state standards.
I need the core standards because the prior standards had different “enhancements” in Washoe and Clark counties; which means that I could not even collaborate with teachers in the southern part of the state, let alone elsewhere. Today, I work with teachers in other states as much as I collaborate within my building. The internet allows me to connect with math teachers from across the United States and share lessons and pool resources with teachers in Oklahoma and New York as easily as I can with the teacher across the hall.
My needs pale when compared to the needs of my learners, however. My learners need the common core for two reasons. First, my learners need a solid foundation beginning in elementary school upon which to build future mathematics content. The current standards provide this through the shifts, the mathematical practices, and the standards themselves. An example of how much can be accomplished with the standards is two weeks ago, my learners were working on the A.REI group; solving systems of equations algebraically & graphically. My learners had a graph of two functions with solutions that were easy to find one-way and impossible to find other ways. They persevered for over 30 minutes individually and in groups before they finally gave up and asked me for help. The understanding we found was; there was no algebraic way to find the solution, and they refused to believe it. The mathematical practices served my learners well. They showed perseverance, appropriate use of tools as well as making arguments, regularity of structure and critiquing the reasoning of others. This is the heart and soul of a successful math classroom. My learners need and deserve this high level of rigor.
The second reason my learners’ need the standards are because the core standards are not the maximum, they are the minimum body of knowledge that learners must know. The core standards raised the bar tremendously from prior standards, and in so doing created a foundation that is stronger, substantive, and more demanding than we had in the past. My learners need the core standards so they can build their foundation, and upon this foundation launch themselves to higher mathematics with confidence. My learners do not come into my room to be average, they come into my room to be awesome, and the core standards allow and encourage them to be awesome.
Any suggestions? Comments?