SDE: Supt. Barresi's Regular Newspaper Column

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From the Superintendent's Desk

EDITORS: Below is State Superintendent Janet Barresi’s newspaper column for Nov. 9, 2012.


Demystifying the Common Core
By Janet Barresi, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Friday, Nov. 9, 2012

First, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a special thank you to all of the men and women who serve or who have served in our nation’s armed forces. Monday is Veteran's Day, a day to honor their duty and sacrifice. I pray for safety for those who are still serving at home and abroad. I pray they will soon be reunited with their families, and that we all can experience the peace and security for which they are fighting.  

On the education front, I got a particular treat this week. David Coleman, the new president of College Board, visited the state and spoke to a group of educators at a State Department of Education summit in Oklahoma City.

Before taking his role at College Board, Mr. Coleman was a co-founder of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit that played a leading role in developing Common Core State Standards in literacy and math. Oklahoma is one of 46 states in the nation to embrace these standards. We’ve made them a part of our overall Oklahoma C3 Standards, which will prepare every student in the state for college, career and citizenship.

Mr. Coleman explained that Common Core standards are a remarkable work of collaboration between Republican and Democratic governors and education officials.  They were written as a result of so many students throughout the country who were graduating demonstrably not ready for college or careers, he said. These aren’t students who were dropping out but students who were making it all the way through high school but then forced to take remedial coursework in college or extra training before they could enter the work force.

“My proposal is that Common Core Standards were created in a moment of crisis,” he said. “Everyone agreed the current state standards were not working.”

The standards are based on overwhelming evidence that they are effective in truly preparing students for college and career, he said. Instead of burdening educators with more standards on top of the already impossible load they already have, however, Coleman said Common Core is a way to actually lighten the load for teachers.

“Think of the Common Core as an eraser and a pen,” he urged the educators in the room. “They invite you to do a few things well.”

Mr. Coleman explained that focusing on fewer key concepts would give teachers more time to teach and students more time to practice. This allows for deeper learning and the development of critical thinking skills.

Mr. Coleman said his purpose in speaking was to bring Common Core alive for educators in their daily work.  I know after his talk I felt more energized. Mr. Coleman demystifies Common Core. He gives us permission to combine our instincts with a new way of thinking and a new focus on instruction. I’m amazed at the promise of what our kids will be able to do.

For more information, contact Damon Gardenhire, State Department of Education, (405) 310-9323,, or Tricia Pemberton, (405) 521-3371, (405) 431-7195,