Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal said in a public question and answer session at the Oro Valley Public Library this weekend that he was open to feedback regarding the state’s recently implemented College and Career Ready Standards.

He got plenty of that, and more.

While Huppenthal said polls show that only a significantly small percentage of Arizonans oppose the new teaching standards formerly known as Common Core, far more were critical than supportive during the three-hour meeting on Sunday.

The standards, which were adopted in 2010 and being implemented this school year, are designed to make curriculums consistent throughout the country, but critics – many of them teachers – say they’re not working.

Some parents in the meeting felt the same, many voicing a common theme.

“Common Core tells teachers what they will teach and how they will teach it. To be told you have to teach this way when you have students that learn in different ways is wrong,” said one parent.  

Huppenthal said while the standards are designed to make students meet specific benchmarks by the end of each grade, the individual school and teachers still have the power to determine how the lessons are taught. 

“The standard is a skill set, the knowledge the students need to have, and that is completely set apart from curriculum, and that is completely set apart from lesson planning,” Huppenthal said, adding, “That is the reason I chose to rename our standards to College and Career Ready.”

Many took issue with the fact the standards have yet to be tested prior to being implemented, saying students are being used as guinea pigs to enforce standards that have no track record of success. 

Ten-year teacher Brad McQueen pointed out that the test for College and Career Standards is still unfinished, creating an even hazier picture of what lies ahead for Arizona’s students. 

“We don’t know if these standards are so great,” said McQueen. “People are saying they are, but they haven’t been tested or shown to be that.”

McQueen added that while poll numbers may show support for the standards, the truth is that teachers, in large part, do not back them.

Many, he said, are simply afraid to speak up.

“There are a lot of teachers against these standards,” McQueen said. “Teachers aren’t comfortable opposing you and Jan Brewer. You’re our boss’ boss’ boss’ boss.”

Few voiced support for the standards. Those who did said they see nothing wrong with creating consistent, measurable goals for students across the nation, and that the College and Career Standards allow students to think more conceptually about classroom subjects. 

While Huppenthal said if problems arise the standards could be adjusted, he also said that as of now he “sees nothing wrong” with them and does not plan to budge because it would “throw the system into chaos.” According to Huppenthal, the College and Career Standards are more coherent, more rigorous, and more understandable than past standards, such as AIMS.

To some, like McQueen, the lack of compromise means Huppenthal needs to go. 

“The only thing I can do now is work against you,” said McQueen. “I’m going to vote, and I’m going to advocate. I’m going to make you budge at the ballot box.”

(3) comments


The group many us teachers are uncomfortable opposing would be the ill-informed, angry, vitriolic group in attendance at the public meeting, not our employers. This groups' SPECIFIC concerns with regard to the CCRS were never addressed. A rational discussion is not possible with people who constantly interrupt, applaud, yell, shout, etc.

My local administration, school board, and district administration are supportive and open to discussion. I appreciate Mr. Huppenthal's attendance at Sunday's meeting; sadly, the ACSE will move forward with their agenda despite his explanations.

Sunny Day

I am sorry to hear Tchr Ann didn't feel comfortable speaking. This appears to be a problem for pro common core AND anti common core teachers. Perhaps this is why an honest discussion was never had prior to the adoption of common core. If everyone is afraid to talk, then a top down system of decision-making is more likely to result. Regardless of one's position on common core, I hope we all agree that teachers, parents, and the community should be able to voice their opinions.

Not all of the standards are disagreeable. Many people don't agree with the fact that the standards and testing have never been tried anywhere. We have no data to support these big changes. We are going on blind-faith that the cc standards will yield kids a superior education. That is a big leap in assumption and risk for many people. Then when you add the unknown costs to implement common core. It's not a surprise that questions arise.

Where does one go to address a problem with a standard? The teacher is following the principal, the principal follows the district, and the district points to state law. Who is accountable and empowered when a change needs to be made? To that end, it remains to be seen if standards can change at all. It would be very arrogant of anyone to think that cc standards are perfect as written and never needed changing. Nothing in life is perfect. We are human and we make mistakes. Who benefits from standards with a copyright protection?

Perhaps Tchr Ann came late or left early? There were many specific examples of questions on math standards at the beginning and end of the meeting. There were actual math standards and problems from 3 different grade levels posted in the room for all to view and were discussed. Also a very specific Geometry standard was discussed towards the end.

I also give Mr. Huppenthal credit for staying past the meeting time to speak to those who didn't have a chance to ask their question during the question/answer forum.

The definition of vitriol is cruel and bitter criticism. I did not hear anyone directing personal bitterness or cruelty to Mr. Huppenthal. The criticism was for the standards and the method in which they came to be in Arizona. I was not privy to hearing anything of a vitriolic nature directed to the speaker. Did people disagree with the standards that AZ accepted? Yes. Did people applaud in support of statements they agreed with? Yes.

45 states signed on to common core, 33 now have active legislation against parts or all of common core/testing/privacy concerns/costs and more.

Mr. Huppenthal mentioned Indiana is in chaos as they are the first state stepping away from common core. That may well be true. 33 states see chaos in a different way. This is not a Republican vs Democrat issue.

33 states with pending anti cc legislation leads me to think that it may not be easy to make changes at a local level. Perhaps that can change. Until then, states are making the decision to get rid of the whole thing or the parts they don't like.

Readers, please do your own research. Sometimes seeing a standard in its implementation looks worse than the standard itself. It isn't that those against cc want kids to have a subpar education. It's the opposite. Make changes to improve education based on proven research and proven teaching methods.


Sadly, TchrrAnn's comment is pretty typical of the education deformer movement. She doesn't address any of the legitimate concerns that parents and teachers ACROSS THE COUNTRY have with CC. Instead just ad hominem attacks. Post a real pro-core and logical argument. No one is interrupting now.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.