FAIRFIELD — New school standards called Common Core – the subject of a Vacaville town hall Wednesday night – require a significant boost in spending to train teachers and administrators, says a consultant with a Fairfield-based firm.
“You can’t make major changes without supporting the people who are making the changes,” said Nancy Peterson of Total School Solutions. “It is necessary to spend some money to do this.”
“Teachers have to be ready so they can help students be ready,” Peterson said.
She’ll present an Oct. 11 workshop in Fairfield about Common Core, which supporters say provides consistent benchmarks for student performance, the day after providing the same training in San Bernardino County. Peterson is a retired director of secondary curriculum and a principal in San Diego County.
Perry Polk, president of the Fairfield-Suisun School District board of trustees, said the $4.3 million the state provided the school district to implement Common Core will increase teacher training and other professional development.
“We have a very, very robust professional development program anyway,” Polk said. “Now we’re able to move that toward Common Core.”
Wendy Hart, a critic of Common Core who’ll speak Wednesday in Vacaville, said Common Core spurred spending on new textbooks and other items in the Alpine School District, where she is a school board member for the largest district in Utah.
“It’s an extremely lucrative thing,” she said of Common Core-related spending.
California Department of Education spokeswoman Tina Jung said state funds can be used on Common Core-related spending for teacher training and other professional development. The money can also be used for instructional materials and technology for Common Core, she said.
How Fairfield-Suisun and other school districts in California spend the money depends upon the plan adopted to implement Common Core, Jung said.
“Common means the same across the nation,” Jung said of the origin of the name. “What they learn is going to be the same in California as the rest of the nation.”
Along with the $4.3 million for Fairfield-Suisun, the Solano County Office of Education received $110,000 from the state for Common Core. Sandy Jessop, county assistant superintendent for educational services, said more than 30 Common Core workshops involving 940 teachers and administrators have taken place since 2011.
Jessop said Common Core standards “are designed to build upon the advanced current thinking.”
A three-minute video posted on the Fairfield-Suisun School District website about Common Core said states have been setting different standards so that a student getting an A in literature in Seattle could be getting a C in a Chicago school. The new standards seek to address that, the video adds, while local communities still design school curricula.
Utah school board member Hart said it’s unrealistic to expect student grades in literature to mean the same in different states.
“I don’t think you can actually do that,” said Hart, 48, a computer programmer.
She is paying for the $400 airfare to travel to the 7 p.m. town hall meeting at the Ulatis Community Center, 1000 Ulatis Drive in Vacaville. Common Core Concerns is hosting the event.
Hart said a fellow school board member who is also a teacher said of attempts to standardize teaching from state to state that, “You’ll get different instruction going across the hall.”
Common Core standards leave the Alpine school district no choice, Hart said.
“As a local school board member I have no options not to implement Common Core,” she said.
Supporters of the standards see them as a kind of silver bullet to solve problems in American education, Hart said.
“There is no silver bullet,” she said.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.