Many forward-thinking NYC community educators and CBO leaders gathered at TASC today to discuss with Gregg Betheil how they can help their schools help students meet the newly instituted New York State Common Core standards. As Executive Director of the Office of School Programs & Partnerships for the NYC Department of Education, Gregg’s been taking his Common Core road show to museums, universities and all kinds of organizations that partner with teachers and principals to expand learning in schools.
His objective in de-mystifying the new learning standards, Gregg said, is to help organizations adapt their work to help students meet standards—and also to communicate their value to principals. Principals are overwhelmed by pitches and offers from well-intentioned community and other organizations that want to partner with schools. Those who understand the new standards—and who understand how they will change instruction—have a leg up on getting a principal’s attention and interest.
For those who weren’t at our conference, this NYC DOE library is a good place to dig into the standards and their adaptability to after-school and informal learning activities.
One way community partners can start helping schools right now is to integrate more non-fiction (“informational texts” in edu-jargon) into their literacy activities, Gregg suggested. He asked our group how many of us read non-fiction with our kids as well as fiction. (Not many.) By the time kids are mid-way through elementary school, the Common Core standards call for a 50-50 mix of fiction and non-fiction in the school curriculum. By high school, the mix should be 85-15.