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Sun., Dec. 28
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Well, teachers from yet another school sounded off on the Common Core State Standards — but their message wasn’t what you might have expected given recent opposition.

Staff members from Lyme Central School in Chaumont provided an informational session for parents on the new criteria and how they will impact what students will learn. The session was open to parents who have children in kindergarten through second grade. School officials hope to have another session for parents with children in higher grades later this year.

“There are a lot of questions that even we had a hard time answering at the beginning of the year,” said second grade teacher Sarah McClusky, who made the presentation to parents along with four other elementary school teachers. “The whole staff saw a need and saw parents struggling with the new materials. We thought this could be a way to make that palatable.”

The Common Core State Standards are nationally recognized educational goals that children will be required to achieve in federally funded schools. They are expected to help make American students more academically competitive among children from other countries.

The objective is to ensure children in U.S. schools are better prepared for college as well as the workforce. The program also includes new ways of evaluating teachers on their success in helping children reach these goals.

But numerous teachers, administrators and parents have objected to the Common Core State Standards. In particular, the New York State Education Department has been sharply criticized for how it implemented the program. While some aspects of the program have already been introduced, students will not be required to pass tests based on the new criteria for another five years.

There is obviously much to be concerned about what teaching these standards will mean for children and how they will be integrated into local school curriculums. Many rough spots need to be smoothed over before improved results will be seen.

But the Common Core State Standards are designed to enhance a system that has not done its best in educating our children. Any new program is bound to be confusing at first, and there is nothing wrong with expressing grievances over its weak points.

These standards are the future of education, however, and we all need to accept that. The teachers at Lyme Central School provided a valuable service by wrestling with the new criteria, comprehending how they’ll impact teaching and inviting parents to discover what the school will do to help students achieve these objectives.

In early January, the Watertown Daily Times published a story focusing on how teachers and administrators at Augustinian Academy in Carthage were embracing the Common Core initiative. The positive reaction of these two schools, as well as the many other local educators who have worked to comprehend the new standards and put them into practice, brings to mind a particular adage: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

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