Thursday, October 31, 2013

Computers for Families shows the power of partnerships

Newspaper column
Oct. 24, 2013

In third grade, “Maria” was doing so poorly in school that she was at risk of dropping out. By the end of fourth grade, she was a top student who was working above her grade level.
What made the difference? Many factors, and many people, were essential to the transformation, but one event stood out: Maria received a computer even though her family couldn’t afford one. Her benefactor was Computers for Families, which hit a milestone this year when it provided its 10,000th free computer to a local low-income child.
In many cases, including Maria’s, those children immediately begin teaching their siblings and even their parents how to use the technology. Imagine the impact; imagine the number of lives that have been touched by those 10,000 computers.
This success is even more remarkable when you realize that every one of these computers was donated, refurbished, and distributed, at no cost to the families, through a partnership of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and schools. 
The cornerstones of this partnership are the enlightened local business leaders who realize that a contribution to children is an investment in everyone’s future. They know that strong schools, strong communities, and a strong economy work hand in hand, with each one reinforcing the others.
Computers for Families is a program of the nonprofit Partners in Education that is administered by my office, with the goal of having a computer in the home of every student on the South Coast. A similar program, Computer Connections, operates in the North County through the cooperation of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Maria Valley Industry Education Council, and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
The CFF concept is simple. Businesses, government agencies, and individuals donate their outdated computers, and high school students in the Regional Occupational Program learn how to repair and upgrade them. Cox Communications provides discounted Internet access, and SBCEO employees provide computer training for the children, their parents, and even their teachers, as needed. 
A computer is just a tool, so by itself it can’t make much difference. Maria had an inner drive to succeed, as well as dedicated teachers and caring parents who did all they could to support her. But as a tool, a computer is as essential for today’s students as pencils and paper were for earlier generations.
Educators and employers speak about the “digital divide” between students with access to technology and those with none. Computers for Families is dedicated to closing this gap, because it puts low-income children at a tremendous disadvantage as they try to keep up with classmates who have access at home to all the research tools and other resources they need. Until students cross that divide, they can’t achieve their full potential in school or careers — and that matters to all of us. Before we know it, today’s students will be the foundation of our community and our economy. Everyone’s future depends upon their preparation to become fully contributing members of society.
CFF is an inspiring example of thinking globally and acting locally. Without waiting for some grand government solution, local people put their heads together 16 years ago and created a win-win partnership.

Computers for Families has been a success because, at its heart, it isn’t about computers; it’s about families. It’s about improving lives and our community, one child at a time. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rotary Club of Santa Barbara honors Harding teacher

The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara presented a Teacher Recognition Award on Oct. 18 to Kristin Corpuz, a special education teacher at Harding University Partnership School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
Since 1986, the club has honored outstanding teachers from South Coast schools. During the year, Rotary of Santa Barbara honors a special education, secondary, and elementary school teacher with a certificate and a $1,000 check to spend on their classroom needs.
“This kind of contribution by the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara and other groups makes a real difference for children, because it helps teachers do the work that is so vital to our community’s future,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “An investment like this pays big dividends for our youth and our community.”
"The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara is honored to support local education and teachers such as Kristin Corpuz,” said Roland S. Christopher, chairman of the Teacher Recognition Committee of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara. “She is an outstanding example of an educator doing amazing things for our local youth.
“Rotary of Santa Barbara and Rotarians around the globe know that Kristin's work is what makes communities better,” he continued. “We are excited by her passion for a better Santa Barbara, and know that education makes a difference in our great community,” he added.
“To be an educator is an incredible responsibility and honor,” Corpuz said. “Each day and each moment I try to connect with children and impact their lives in significant and meaningful ways.”
“As a special educator, my goal is always to make progress on their individualized goals and broader learning, no matter where we need to start in their learning process, but most importantly, it is my goal for my students to feel confident, act and think independently, and feel joyful as we learn and work together,” she added.
A member of Harding’s leadership team, she is Special Education Department chairwoman, Disabilities Awareness Day coordinator, Collaborative Academic Support Team facilitator, Student Success Team and Reading Intervention Team co-facilitator, and instructional assistants supervisor. She is also a mentor to new teachers through the Teacher Induction Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara meets at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort in Santa Barbara for lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays. Recipients of the club’s Teacher Recognition Awards are made with the assistance of the Teacher Programs and Support Department of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

For more information, visit or

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Radio Commentary

        Leadership and service aren’t limited to public roles, according to author Marian Wright Edleman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
In fact, she argued that the strongest leadership and most effective service can come from the way individuals handle themselves, day to day, in their normal interactions with others.
In a book for her children, she wrote: “Be a quiet servant-leader and example. You have a role to exercise ... every minute of the day.”
She explained how in the most common of circumstances we can seize the opportunity to resist what is negative and set an example for what can be positive.
She wrote:  “Have you ever noticed how one example — good or bad — can prompt others to follow?
 “How one illegally parked car can give permission for others to do likewise?
 “How one racial joke can fuel another?
“How one sour person can dampen a meeting?” 
Edelman writes that the opposite is also true. “One positive person can set the tone in an office or school. Just doing the right and decent thing can set the pace for others to follow.”
We could all benefit by being one of those people who models positive behavior.  
Edelman writes: “America is in urgent need of a band of moral guerrillas who simply decide to do what is right, regardless of the immediate consequences.”

This is wonderful advice for young and old alike.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Radio Commentary

A very serious threat to the well-being of children is one that many parents still know too little about: cyber-bullying. Its effects can be devastating.
We have all read news reports of young suicide victims, bullied into believing life was no longer worth living because of relentless attacks over the Internet. 
One can only imagine the ripple effect these tragedies have had on the victims’ families, and their communities, and even on the perpetrators.
Most young people who take part in cyber-bullying do it as a joke, and don’t pause to consider the impacts. Throughout human history, young people have shown they can be mean to each other, but the Internet has provided them with the tools to be truly cruel.
Many parents are simply not up to speed when it comes to social network sites or the online places their own children visit. New sites seem to emerge each day. 
Add in the presence of text messages and video messages, and it all means that parenting in the age of cyber-crimes is more challenging than ever. 
It might seem like a good idea to give a young child a cell phone with Internet access, but parents should consider the trade-offs they are making when they do so. 
Yes, children will be able to stay in touch; but the risk is real, especially with young children whose judgment and decision-making skills are not yet fully developed. 

Our office is working in partnership with District Attorney Joyce Dudley to address and reduce incidents of cyber-bullying. Parents need to be active partners in these efforts as well.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Detail skills

Radio Commentary

People generally talk about reading and writing in the same breath. Certainly, many of the skills that make children successful at one skill make them good at the other. 
For example, one important reading skill that benefits from writing practice is identification of details. 
Parents should encourage children to provide details in their own written stories. This will help them become more aware of the way other authors use detail. 
One writing exercise requiring details is to have children give directions. Ask them to write very specifically how to get from home to school, or how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
When children write thank-you notes to friends or relatives, have them describe in detail the gift they received and how they will use it. 
You can also have children use a clipboard when watching TV. Have them jot down ad slogans that use good details. 
They might write down phrases such as “the brightest, sharpest photos” or “crispy, crunchy crackers.” 
Children can also take the clipboard along on family outings. Ask them to describe the “prettiest” thing they see on the trip, or the “most unusual.” Then challenge them to list as many details as they can.
One way teachers measure improvement in young writers is to look at their use of details. The same is also true for improving reading comprehension: details matter.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Robin Selzler

Talking with Teachers
Dos Pueblos High School
October 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Charting success

Radio Commentary

It can be fun for children to create a “success chart” by designing a bar graph or a line graph to show progress on various tasks.
Be sure to keep the goals realistic. You might want to coordinate the plan with your child’s teacher, factoring in assignments or improvement in grades.
Ask what makes more sense for your child:  aiming for an 80 on a test or a 90? Start out with smaller goals so your child can gain some momentum that can lead to larger successes.
Giving incentives can be an important part of this activity.
Figure out what types of items would work best in your family. Rewards like a movie or a computer game rental might be effective.
Monetary rewards for reaching a goal might be appropriate if children learn to save it for something they really want, or use it to support an important cause.
Though positive reinforcement is an effective tool in changing behavior, everyone reacts differently. What is right for one child might not work well for another.
Allowing your children to chart their own progress is a great way for them to see results.
And seeing improvement in such a graphic fashion can show them that their efforts do actually pay off. The hope is that they will work harder as a result.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Radio Commentary

We’ve made a lot of progress in reducing the number of children who are accidentally poisoned each year. Much of the credit is due to public education on the topic.
In the 1960s, more than 450 children under the age of 5 were dying from accidental poisoning each year. That total has fallen to about 30. But it’s still too high.
Simple precautions remain critical:
• Keep medicines in their original child-proof containers, stored out of reach.
• Follow doctor’s instructions carefully when giving medicine to children.
• Store household cleaners safely — a high percentage of poisonings involve everyday cleaning products, cosmetics, cough and cold remedies, antibiotics, and vitamins.
• Teach children never to eat anything you haven’t approved. 
A typical household contains products such as bleach, fertilizers, or paint stripper that can be fatal to a child.
If your child swallows a poison, you must act quickly but calmly:
If the child is conscious, determine exactly what was swallowed. The child could lose consciousness at any time.
Call 9-1-1 or the local poison control center. 
Have the container on hand so you can tell the center the exact contents of what was swallowed. If the child must go to the hospital, be sure to take the poison container with you for the doctors there.
Stay calm and give the professionals short, precise answers, because time is often critical.

Friday, October 18, 2013

School success tips

Radio Commentary

           We all know the traditional advice given to children on how to succeed in school: study hard, pay attention, do all your assignments.
            These are important actions for success in school, and all children should follow that advice as a basis for academic achievement.
But parents can help children improve success in school by making them aware of other basics that have an effect in more subtle areas of attitude and behavior.
For example, it is good advice to tell young people the following:
•     Sit close to the front or near the center of the class, if seats are not assigned. This helps avoid distractions.
•     Be interested in what the teacher is saying. Sit up straight and look the teacher in the eye.
•     Be on time for class. Bring all needed supplies.
•     Raise your hand and volunteer answers frequently. This helps you stay engaged.
•     Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Better to clarify it right away than let the confusion grow.
•     Take notes. Write down all directions and assignments so you don’t have to trust your memory.
•     Offer to help the teacher when needed.
•     Be sure to say thanks when the teacher has gone out of the way to help.
These basics won’t solve all the problems children face in school, but they set a climate conducive to learning and they position a child well to achieve success.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New teachers, mentors honored at gala dinner

Seven exemplary educators in Santa Barbara County were honored Saturday night, Oct. 12, at the first “Salute to Teachers” gala dinner at Bacara Resort and Spa.
Three teachers were chosen as Distinguished New Educators and three others as Distinguished Mentors. Capping the evening was a presentation to the 2013-14 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Kelly Choi.
The Santa Barbara County Education Office, Bacara Resort, and Montecito Bank and Trust partnered with Cox Communications to bring the black-tie event to Santa Barbara for the first time. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for years in San Diego, and the partners plan to make the Salute to Teachers an annual event in Santa Barbara as well.
Other major business partners were Fielding Graduate University, Village Properties, and Anthem Blue Cross.
The Distinguished New Educators, nominated by their peers and chosen by a committee through the County Education Office, were:
Cheryl Lastra, Solvang School, Solvang School District
Tyler Wilkes, Hollister School, Goleta Union School District
Jessica Zambrano, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria Joint Union High School District
The Distinguished Mentors, selected in the same fashion, were:
Megan Cotich, La Colina Junior High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Michelle Poquette, Cabrillo High School, Lompoc Unified School District
Amanda Sweigart, Ellwood School, Goleta Union School District
Choi was named Teacher of the Year in May and is a candidate for California Teacher of the Year. She is a mathematics teacher at Dos Pueblos High School, the director and co-founder of the school’s Academy program for at-risk students, and a technology coach for other teachers in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
The other six honored educators are all participants in the Teacher Induction Program at the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), which pairs experienced mentors with new teachers who are beginning to apply what they have learned while earning their teaching credentials.
“One of the most important investments that we can make is to accelerate the support and effectiveness of new teachers,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “This was an opportunity to highlight outstanding new teachers and the hard work they do to create bright futures for students, and we’re grateful to the business partners who made the evening possible.”
In addition to a commemorative statuette, each honoree received a cash award from Cox. 
As the award winners were introduced, they were featured in short videos that showed them working in their classrooms and speaking in interviews about their teaching philosophies and strategies.
That footage will also be used in a television show that Cox will broadcast at 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on Channel 8 from Nov. 4 through Dec. 27.
For more information about the awards or the event, go to or contact Steven Keithley, SBCEO Director of Teacher Programs and Support, at 964-4711, ext. 5281.
For more information about the SBCEO Teacher Induction Program, go to or contact Ryan Gleason, the program’s director, at or 964-4711, ext. 5426.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Views of parent conferences

Radio Commentary

From a child’s standpoint, a parent-teacher conference brings two important parts of the child’s life closer together – school and home.
Children usually feel good that their teacher and parents know each other because they are all such important influences and role models.
As a result, after the conference, parents usually are better able to help their children with school work.  
During the conference, teachers can show parents the learning growth that has taken place for their children. Plus, teachers can pass on enjoyable details or special concerns about learning.
In turn, parents can learn of special services available for children who need them.  
They can find out how individual differences are taken into account in teaching, and how that can apply to their child.
For their part, parents can help teachers learn more about home activities and situations that affect learning.
The teacher can be more effective when positive feelings exist between home and school. For this reason, parent-teacher conferences create a win-win situation that goes far beyond the specific exchange of information that takes place.
They set a tone of cooperation and support that can be very influential on a child’s attitude toward learning.  
They also establish lines of communication that can prove critical in times of challenge. It’s a win-win for all involved.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

SBHS students competing for Super Bowl commercial

A student-operated business at Santa Barbara High School has a chance to be featured in a TV commercial during the Super Bowl, but only if it gets enough online votes by Oct. 13.
The Dons Net Café, which offers hands-on entrepreneurial experience through the Regional Occupational Program, has made it to the second round of a contest in which the grand prize is a commercial during the National Football League’s championship game.
The contest, called “Small Business/Big Game,” is sponsored by Intuit, the parent company of QuickBooks. The business that gets the most online votes wins, so the Dons are urging all of Santa Barbara to vote for them.
“The Dons Net Café seems to be the only student-run enterprise in the contest, which has attracted hundreds if not thousands of small businesses from all over the country. Hopefuls include a dog-walking service, a chicken restaurant, a violin maker, and even a tattoo shop,” said Lee Knodel, the teacher who supervises the Net Café students.
“I found the contest while I was searching for ways to expand our business,” said Jesus Terrazas, the senior who is CEO of the Dons Net Café. “What better way is there to promote our custom T-shirt business, Design-N-Cut, than to be on the Super Bowl with the whole country watching?
“We’ll show that students are competitive at a professional level. If we can do it, others can do it,” Jesus added.
“I always tell the kids to show up and go for it. That we’ve come this far in the contest is a prime example of what ‘showing up’ is all about,” added Knodel, who teaches computer applications, “virtual enterprise,” accounting, and finance through the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) that is funded and administered countywide by the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
To vote for the Dons Net Café, go to the students’ website, and hit “vote for us,” or go to and use “Dons” in the search field. Anyone can vote once a day from the same device. 
The Dons Net Café is a student-run business that represents a 20-year commitment to inspire students to create positive, social and environmental change through ethical commerce and service learning, Knodel said. Her students participate in Junior Achievement, Virtual Enterprise, Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Roots and Shoots, and other “service learning” projects.
Santa Barbara County ROP/CTE courses provide high-quality career technical education, career education, career development, and workforce preparation to about 3,800 high school students each year in the Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Ynez Valley communities.
For more information, including lists of classes offered in each ROP partner school district, photos, videos and student testimonials, go to

Monday, October 14, 2013

Preschool health fairs and screenings

Free health screenings, medical information, and follow-up services will be offered to nearly 750 local children who attend state preschools at health fairs in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, and Lompoc over the next several weeks.
Nurses, medical assistants, health advocates, and volunteers from more than 20 agencies will provide vision, hearing, and height and weight screenings. In addition, dentists and hygienists are volunteering to provide dental screenings and fluoride varnish at the events organized by the Health Linkages Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Child Development Department.
“Illness can interfere with children’s learning and development, and early recognition of health problems results in more effective treatment,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “These health fairs will not only identify children with health concerns but will provide families with the resources to address those needs.”
The health fairs are scheduled for Sept. 27 at the Isla Vista Teen Center, Oct. 11 at Franklin Community Center in Santa Barbara, and Oct. 25 at the Lompoc Unified School District’s Adult Education Center.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional organizations, periodic health screenings for preschool children are important for many reasons: 
•  Hearing is central to language development, communication, and learning. An estimated 35 percent of preschool children experience repeated episodes of ear infections and intermittent hearing loss, and nearly six in 1,000 children develop some degree of permanent hearing loss by the time they start school.
•  Nearly one in 20 preschoolers has a vision problem, but these young children do not know that the way they see the world is not the way everyone sees it. Many abnormalities are treatable if discovered early, but left untreated they can lead to vision loss and blindness.
•  The prevalence of obesity among U.S. preschoolers has doubled in recent decades, making it a nutritional concern nationally for low-income preschool children. Childhood obesity increases the risk for adult obesity and is associated with a number of health problems.
•  Dental disease is common among young children, particularly those from low-income families, but few preschool-age children ever visit a dentist. Fluoride varnish has been found to be effective in preventing cavities in the primary teeth of young children.
The agencies providing health screenings include Santa Barbara County Public Health, American Indian Health Services, Isla Vista Youth Projects, Santa Barbara City College and California State University Channel Islands nursing programs, Santa Barbara Business College, Goleta and Lompoc Lions Clubs and the Lions Sight and Hearing Center of Santa Barbara, Family Service Agency, Community Action Commission, Dorothy Jackson Family Resource Center, Promotores de Salud, and local dental providers.
Staff from Isa Vista Youth Projects and Family Service Agency Family Resource Centers will offer case management assistance for each child who needs a follow-up exam or treatment in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Lompoc. Direct Relief International is providing family dental kits.
Agencies that will provide health and safety information and answer questions include the Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services MediCal Outreach and Public Health Department Children’s Health and Disability Prevention Program, Santa Barbara County Children’s Health Initiative, CALM, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, CenCal Health, Santa Barbara Fire Department and Police Department, Santa Barbara County Food Bank, Planned Parenthood, Domestic Violence Solutions, Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, SBCEO Migrant Education Program and Welcome Every Baby Program, Nutrition Network, and Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). 
Additional organizations that want to participate are invited to call Health Linkages Coordinator Georgene Lowe at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, 964-4710, ext. 4455. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Media invited to tour our innovative career-education classes

Santa Barbara County media representatives are invited to join a tour at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24, of two innovative career-education classes at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School that are operated by the Regional Occupational Program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
The Environmental and Spatial Technologies (EAST) class taught by Chip Fenenga is the only high school program in the world using a state-of-the-art laser scanner as part of an international campaign to “digitally preserve” important historical and cultural structures before they are lost to age, fire, flood, or other disaster.
Students in Jennifer Croll’s sports medicine and kinesiology class will demonstrate what they have learned through classroom instruction and hands-on laboratory experience in kinesiology, biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, CPR, and first aid.
California Assemblyman Das Williams of Santa Barbara will be joined on the tour by leaders of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
In partnership with six school districts from Carpinteria to Santa Maria, ROP/CTE (Regional Occupational Program/Career Technical Education) enrolls approximately 3,800 high school juniors and seniors each year in career technical education classes that help them to advance to colleges and universities in a career field or to enter the work force. Students earn academic credit toward high school graduation, and more than 80 percent of ROP classes offer dual credit with local community colleges. Some classes are also approved to meet University of California entrance requirements.
“ROP classes provide excellent academic instruction and training in skills that are invaluable for students, whether they plan to enroll in a university or go directly into a career after high school,” said Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “In addition, these classes open students’ eyes to college and career possibilities that they would not have considered otherwise.”
To see examples of community projects done by EAST students, search YouTube using cfenenga as the key word.
For more information on ROP/CTE in Santa Barbara County, including lists of classes offered in each school district, photos, videos and student testimonials, go to the SBCEO program’s website,

To reserve a place on the tour, contact ROP Program Manager Jeri Wynn or ROP Director Tony Bauer at or 937-8427.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

61st annual Breakfast with the Authors set for Saturday, Oct. 5

Members of the community will be able to enjoy brunch and conversation with world-renowned children’s authors and illustrators at the 61st annual Breakfast with the Authors sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, in the SBCEO auditorium, 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road.
This year a three-member panel will discuss how the Common Core State Standards, newly adopted by California and 45 other states, will affect children’s literature. Each of our guest authors will then have a chance to speak briefly on the subject, followed by an open-mic forum.
Authors and illustrators who have confirmed their attendance include Caroline Arnold, Susan Casey, Tina Nichols Coury, Joan Bransfield Graham, Carol Heyer, Valerie Hobbs, Amy Goldman Koss, Sarah Lynn, Michelle Markel, James Mihaley, Greg Trine, Lee Wardlaw, and Eugene Yelchin. 
Registration deadline is Sept. 27. For more information and registration materials, go to or contact Rose Koller at 964-4711, ext. 5222, or

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Common Core is for the common good

Newspaper column
October 9, 2013

I have emphasized many times that America’s laser-like focus on test scores has done a disservice to our children by stripping away their joy of learning, cutting off much of their access to art and other important classes, and emphasizing rote memorization over critical thinking.
In discussing international comparisons, I’ve written about the success of Finland, where, as part of their economic recovery plan, leaders have transformed the educational system over the past 40 years. By 2000, Finnish students scored the best in the world in reading. By 2003 they also led the world in math, and by 2006 they were second in science.
Finland reached these high levels of achievement without standardized tests and without a ranking system for students, schools or regions. “We prepared children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test,” a teacher said.
Charles M. Blow, in a recent New York Times column, laments that U.S. students have gone from “leader to laggard” in international comparisons and concludes, “America, we have a problem. Any way you slice it, we’re not where we want or need to be.”
Americans strongly agree about what schools need to do to prepare our students for global leadership. Citing a recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, he points out that 80 percent of Americans strongly agree that schools should teach critical-thinking skills, 78 percent say they should teach communication skills, 57 percent want them to teach students how to collaborate, and 52 percent believe they should help build students’ character. That sounds like the same investment strategy and common-sense approach that is being used in Finland — and like the approach that once made U.S. education the envy of the world.
Blow agrees with education leaders across the country that the new Common Core curriculum standards — which have been adopted by California and 44 other states, the District of Columbia and four territories — are the right vehicle for restoring U.S. education to prominence. The Common Core’s high standards are meant to teach children the skills they need to be successful in college and careers – skills like critical thinking and deep analysis.
Teachers, administrators, reformers and the public know the recipe for success: attracting, supporting and keeping the best teachers and investing in their development; providing “wrap-around” services for poor and struggling students; making schools safe, welcoming, fun places with recess and art and music and nutritious food; and strongly promoting parental engagement.
Blow points out that our educational system has become so tangled in exams and experiments that we’ve drifted away from the basis of what makes education great: learning to think critically and solve problems. The Common Core is designed to align a high-standards curriculum with methodology and assessment tools that teach critical thinking and problem solving, and restore joy to the learning process.
Blow concludes, “We have drifted away from the fundamentals of what makes a great teacher: the ability to light a fire in a child, to develop in him or her a level of intellectual curiosity, the grit to persevere and the capacity to expand. Great teachers help to activate a small thing that breeds great minds: thirst.
“The Common Core is meant to help bolster those forms of learning and teaching.
“The Common core is for the common good, if only we can … properly implement it.”

I agree.