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Common Core Task Force: The Members and Their Charge

Gov. Malloy announces the formation of the task force a day before the education committee holds a public hearing on the implementation of Common Core State Standards in Connecticut.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

A cross section from the state's education community has been charged with diving headfirst into the controversy that has become known as Common Core.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that he has signed an executive order creating the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce – a group that will be comprised of teachers, parents and administrators with the goal of identifying challenges and gaps in Common Core preparation, and making recommendations on improving the quality and consistency of its implementation.

Public Hearing & Rally in Support of Common Core

Malloy's announcement comes a day before the General Assembly's Education Committee will hold a public hearing on Common Core. That hearing — which was forced by Republicans in the General Assembly amid growing outcry against Common Core — will take place at noon on Wednesday, March 12, in room 1E of the Legislative Office Building.

Two hours before that hearing, a group of superintendents, school board leaders, principals, business and community leaders will gather at the Legislative Office Building to express support for the Common Core State Standards.

"The rigorous Common Core State Standards are clear and consistent, designed to make sure that what kids need to learn at each grade level builds on the grade level before. We believe that the Common Core will help ensure that all Connecticut students are prepared for college and careers, which, in turn, will help make sure Connecticut thrives," the group, which refers to itself as "Connecticut's Big Six," said in a statement.

The group includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

"Unfortunately," the group goes on, "we are witnessing confusion and misinformation about these standards that could prevent us from reaching these goals. Two measures being considered by the General Assembly will weaken or even halt the commitment Connecticut made to its children when it adopted the Common Core Standards. We must not let this happen." 

The Taskforce's Charge

Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce is being asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools and school districts across the state and nation.

Final recommendations are due no later than June 30, 2014, in time for the 2014-15 school year.

“We have an obligation to ensure that all children in the State of Connecticut receive a quality education that will provide them with the necessary tools to lead successful lives in today’s global economy,” Malloy said. “Seeking the input of the teachers and education professionals who are directly involved in the day-to-day activities of our public school system, along with parents, will help the state in our efforts to improve our schools."  

Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut, said, "The Educators' Common Core Implementation Taskforce is a validation of the voices of teachers, which have been united in calling for a course correction for the Common Core. We applaud the governor for creating an efficient approach that includes educator input to relieve the strain of transitioning to new standards in their classrooms."

AFT Connecticut represents more than 29,000 professionals across the state, including PreK-12 teachers, paraeducators and education support personnel in 29 local and regional school districts. 


Who Are the Taskforce Members?

In formulating the membership of the taskforce, the governor received recommendations from the American Federation of Teachers; CT Education Association; CT Association of School Administrators; CT Association of Schools; CT Association of Public School Superintendents; CT Association of Boards of Education; CT Teachers of the Year Association; the CT Parent Teacher Student Association; legislators; and self-nominations from interested educators. 

The members are as follows:

Twelve practicing teachers or education professionals who teach in elementary, middle or high school:
  • Erin Wilson, Elementary School Teacher, Hartford, Teacher of the Year Finalist [Co-Chair]
  • Juanita Harris, Special Education Teacher, Danbury
  • Andrea Middlebrooks, Life Sciences Middle School Teacher, Cromwell
  • Ken Daly, English and Language Arts High School Teacher, Wallingford
  • Bruce Yarnell, Special Education Middle School Teacher, Stonington
  • William McKinney, High School Teacher, New Haven
  • Patti Fusco, Elementary School Teacher, West Haven
  • Susan Schmidt, Elementary School Teacher, New Britain
  • Diana Burns, Elementary School Teacher, Westbrook
  • Sue Loud, Department Head for English & Social Studies, Eli Whitney Technical High School, Hamden
  • Barbara Johnson, Librarian/Elementary School, Colchester
  • Waiting for confirmation from member
Four principals from either an elementary, middle or high school:
  • Dr. Anne Jellison, Principal, Meriden
  • Anthony Ditrio, Principal, Norwalk
  • Vicki Reed, K-2 Principal, Wallingford
  • Edith Johnson, High School Principal, New Haven
Four superintendents or district curriculum leaders:
  • Nate Quesnel, Superintendent, East Hartford [Co-Chair]
  • Paula Talty, Superintendent, Cromwell
  • Sean McKenna, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Groton
  • Ivelise Velazquez, Director of Reading & Social Sciences, Windham
Two parents:
  • Candy Yeager, Stamford parent
  • Waiting for confirmation from member
Two members of local boards of education:
  • Don Harris, Chairman, Bloomfield Board of Education
  • Liz Brown, Waterbury Board of Education 
The Chief Academic Officer of the State Department of Education:
  • Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Chief Academic Officer, State Department of Education
Connie March 30, 2014 at 01:06 PM
There is a story on Yahoo today "This second grader’s revenge against Common Core math will make your day" interesting article about Common Core math. It brings out the stupidity of Common Core math by a kid. http://news.yahoo.com/second-grader-revenge-against-common-core-math-day-141806961.html
Susan Harris March 30, 2014 at 05:44 PM
Gary, we agree. "O.K., so challenge the kids more with quality academic standards in the core subjects." In that statement, you just described the Common Core standards. Some of your other questions while not directly tied to the CC are related. Other questions are not related at all. I prefer to end with what we agree on.
Gary Tobin March 30, 2014 at 08:48 PM
Susan Harris - That comment I made was confirming what you were explaining and that is not common core. Everything else I mentioned are all part of common core, if you want to acknowledge it or not and I didn't get into the data collecting of the kids and their families, medical and personal, that are ultimately sold with identities. The common core will not close the gap between lower performing schools and higher performing schools.
Paul Bahre March 30, 2014 at 10:09 PM
OK the word on the street here in Granby is the kids in the high school hate the idea of taking the common core test. The Juniors are hating it because they feel that this will never touch their lives and it's wasting time that they should be getting instruction time and it's taking time away from their studies. They feel that they are beta testing the achievement test without pay. To tell you guys the truth, I agree. They are rebelling and putting all sorts of nonsense down in the test and they are failing to honestly evaluate the test. The test is easy to get around and Google the answers, from what the rumor mill is telling me. It's funny the Liberal Eastern States are jumping both feet on board because this is Obama territory but the schools in the Northeast are the last schools that need the common core. Florida, the Carolinas, Alaska and Mississippi. But those states will probably not jump on board so quickly if at all. They have to get the test to not be a test in knowing the computer interface and more of a test of knowlege of the subjects at hand. The math has to come down to earth and it has to stop being so esoteric and be more real world based. Yahoo had a story about a math professor who looked at his kids homework and it was a simple matter of double digit subtraction and the math professor sent to school a note that said the simplest way to do is the old fashioned number of number and do it straight up. He stated you don't need to make an algebra equation out of simple math problems. The teacher was trying to get the children to show the solution on a number line. I'm all for using the number line to use as a tool to show the relationship of numbers especially negative to positive numbers and how they all relate but to do the requested equation on the number line was stupid. Now my daughter will not be affected by this curriculum. She will be a senior this year and probably could just take a couple classes at Asnuntuck this summer and graduate but I told her it was in her best interest to stay in high school next year.
Ken P. Jr March 31, 2014 at 08:22 AM
All this rhetoric selling us something we don't want nor need. I don't buy that we had a failed system before nor that any singular system will be better all around than any other. The concept that all of our kids should excel intellectually does many kids a disservice anyway. Not every child will grow to be college material & raising them as if thats the measure of success will cause more emotional; issues than they deal with now. Schools help build people. Children are not computers and are not equal. Common core is big brother trying to max future income with little regard for the kids it hurts on the way. I haven't found a single child who likes or understands it, nor have I found a single parent who likes or understands it. Iv viewed math problems that boggle the mind in their complexity solving what are truly simple problems. Iv found quizzes that make no sense whatsoever which seem designed so all will fail. It is in my mind utterly ridiculous that we should even consider this when we have highly educated administrators at every level paid high salaries to run our BOE. Do we plan on getting rid of the majority of administration once this gets up & running? We should have no need of them IF this thing is worth consideration.

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