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Montana State Superintendent Denise Juneau Explains Common Core and Responds to Opposition

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Photo courtesy of Martin Cathrae/Flickr

Since 2011 Montana’s legislature has been wrestling with the implementation of what has come to be known as “Common Core,” a series of new standards for public school education.

During a senate  meeting on Friday, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau explained the program and Montana’s involvement to senate members.

“Common core is a bipartisan state led initiative across the country,” explained Juneau. “They are, for the first time, standards that 46 states share. So they are really shared standards that raise the bar in English, language arts, and mathematics.”

Juneau also noted that Montana put in a lot of work to ensuring that common core was a good fit for the state.

“This is not a federal initiative, I should be very clear that this was a state-led initiative,” Juneau said. “These standards were presented in a way that could be voluntarily adopted by states. We were the 46th state; the most recent state to adopt these standards, because we took our time. We learned lessons from other states that had adopted. We fully vetted this process with teachers and educators across Montana. We did an independent analysis of our previous standards and these new national standards to really see if they were a correct fit for schools in Montana. I think it’s important to mention that we have always had state standards.”

Juneau also answered legislator’s questions as to why there has been so much opposition to common core.

“It’s a national opposition movement,” Juneau said. “I think there are a lot of people out there that fear a new way of educating students. and because these are such clear standards, a new pathway of clear learning, There is a lot of movement all across this country of opposing common core. I don’t really know how to explain it, other than, that’s starting to creep into our state now and people are starting to pick up on that. I know that you’ve heard a lot from anti-common core people. I don’t think the fear that is present in the communication you’re receiving from those emails and the contacts your receiving is valid. There is nothing to be fearful about about the common core. They are just standards similar to what we’ve always had.”

A statewide standard test for the new common core standards will be taken by Montana students in 2014.

Denise Juneau:

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