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Home / 2014 Session Wrap / Common Core skills taught to 10-year-olds would benefit everyone in Arizona

Common Core skills taught to 10-year-olds would benefit everyone in Arizona

Another legislative session has come to an end and, although short, some say it was one of the most intense in recent memory. From an education perspective I can see why. If I were still teaching, I would be feeling a little dizzy from all the twists and turns. Thankfully, Arizona’s hardworking educators remained undeterred and laser-focused on teaching students the valuable skills they need to succeed in life.

As I watched various committee debates on education issues unfold over this last session, the former 5th grade teacher in me couldn’t help but think about how some of those very same communications and collaboration life skills we teach to Arizona 10-year-olds might just benefit everyone.

Take for example, the ability to present an argument based on evidence or to listen to and evaluate a different point of view. These skills are part of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards. In the 5th grade, one standard reads: “Summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence (5.SL.3).”

As it relates to education, evidence for supporting or opposing any bills ought to be grounded in research and facts tied to student success. For instance, here’s a piece of useful evidence: Countless schools have already been implementing Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards for 2-3 years and have seen dramatic improvements in student learning.

That’s why I am incredibly grateful for the support of business, education and parent groups all across the state, as well as many legislators, on this top education priority. Because of their focused efforts, these higher standards are still in classrooms today. We can also thank our elected leaders for beginning to turn some attention back to higher education, continuing funding for K-3 literacy, as well as prioritizing resources for the state’s education data system and an assessment that will help us replace AIMS — an outdated test that set the bar too low.

With this session behind us, we look forward to working with our elected leaders and policymakers to address the many other elements needed to make Arizona’s public education system world-class for all children.

We must provide the support teachers need to ensure their students flourish under the more rigorous K-12 standards we have put in place. We must prioritize investments in Arizona’s public education system to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed, starting with high quality early learning. We must make Arizona a place where we can recruit and keep outstanding teachers in every classroom. And, we must ensure that every child, regardless of background or zip code, is able to attain more education after high school, because in today’s job market, high school is no longer enough.

I recognize it’s unrealistic that any two people would agree on everything, let alone an entire legislative body and myriad interest groups. But to those who disagree, I ask you to commit to working across partisan lines and finding a path forward for all students. Let’s focus less on our differences and more on the amazing progress we could make together.

Everyone says they care about the success and well-being of Arizona’s kids. Starting with a shared vision of world-class education for every Arizona child, and a healthy dose of those 5th grade communication and collaboration skills, let’s prove that we mean what we say.

— Pearl Chang Esau is president & CEO of Expect More Arizona.


  1. I keep hearing these broad brush strokes from people in favor of common core, but never hear what the curriculum is or the teaching method–especially for Math and English. The devil IS in the details!

  2. How does brainwashing students to be marxists benefit Arizona? And why is this piece not signed?

  3. Common Core isn’t about brain washing our kids to be Marxist. It’s not a conspiracy of the Obama administration and the UN to take over our educational system. Common Core is about raising the educational standards our kids have to meet so they can compete in the global economy that we must compete in today. The U.S. use to be first in the world in education and today we are not in the top 10. If we want our kids to be successful and economically independent we must create the environment where the expectation of a higher degree of learning is the norm not the low standards by which we measure success today.
    Common Core is not a federal program, it is a state run program in which the local school district decide on the curriculum and text that are used.
    Common Core is not the cureall for our kids future it is part of the puzzle. As parents we bare a hugh part of the responsibility in educating our kids. It’s parental involvement with our kids, their homework, special attention when they are struggling that will help them succeed.
    Let’s not fear change (Common a Core) let’s embrace it and give our kids a chance for success.

  4. Doug, The problem may not be in the standards, but there is a problem with the curriculum.

  5. Joy, since the districts pick the curriculum what is the problem you are referring to?

  6. The District seems to follow the State, which follows the Fed, and not create its own.

  7. Joy I appreciate your concern and it is something that I would encourage you to look into a little deeper. Somehow people have tried to make Common Core something that the Federal Government is responsible for and that they are controlling what our children are taught. Common Core is about raising the standards by which our kids are held accountable to. The local control that was there in the past under different standards hasn’t changed.
    I encourage you to investigate futher and maybe this will help elevate your fears.

  8. Was the word “elevate” a Freudian slip?

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Arizona’s politics is so divisive that families tiptoe around the subject until they barely speak, old friends don’t connect because discussing what is going on in the world is off the table for comment, neighbors are careful not to say the word Republican or Democrat, and new acquaintances are welcome if they have your same political philosophy.