A teacher wrote this comment in response to the ongoing debate about the value of the Common Core standards:

“I was one of those who was very leary of the push for non-fiction in high school, but through nearly three years of working with the Common Core in St. Paul, Minnesota, I have come to understand the importance of forcing non-fiction into English classrooms as well as forcing social studies and science teachers to teach literacy related to their content. While the ratios, as you pointed out, are hard to enforce, they play an important role in pushing teachers out of the same old content. No one who has worked with the Core literacy standards sees them as anti-intellectual. In fact, we see them as rigorous and designed to foster critical thinking. What I have come to realize over the years is that I teach discreet genre-related skills for poetry, drama, “the novel and memoir. Why was I sending kids off to college and work without teaching them how to engage in complex, informational and non-fiction text? Now I have partners in that effort in other content classes down the hall. it makes sense.

“I am not paid by Coleman. In fact, I am a recently added member of the Core Advocates team he previously planned because I challenged him. I also serve on a national team through the American Federation of Teachers. I came to this work a skeptic set on buffering my students from the damage of one more ill-conceived “reform.” I have become an advocate because the more I work with the standards, the more I respect them. I suggest that those throwing bombs from the sidelines roll up their sleeves and learn. As for textbook companies, they will always try to dumb down content. Well-trained teachers are the answer to a poor textbook, as always.”