Unlike the other states, Montana has shown nothing but support for Common Core. Adopted a bit later than the majority, November 4, 2011, the Montana Board of Education vowed to have full implementation by the 2013-2014 school year. While there will always be voices of dissent, Montana is a rare find in that support is almost unanimous.
Montana was actually the last state to adopt the standards. This delay was because the state wanted to verify this new program would be right for the students of the state. After countless hours of review and tweaking by the educators, administrators and business leaders over a period of two years and 12 public meeting, it was finally adopted.
After a few years of the implementation process, a group of Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching winners came together to write about their support of the Common Core Standards. Over the course of its evolution within the curriculum, they cited seeing their students continuing to succeed. While they are fully aware of the challenges ahead, the benefits far outweigh the problems.
Even with the standards working so well in schools across the state, the inevitable parent and political backlash arose around the beginning of 2014, sparking the letter of support from the award winning teachers. Be it media influence or misunderstanding, the fear of government control reached even the most accepting of the states. However, unlike other states, Montana educational leaders were quick to point out every flaw in the arguments raised against their Common Core adoption. For one, the claims are not grounded in fact at all, especially the belief that it is a federally mandated program. According to the 12 public meetings they held to put the curriculum together, it’s clear the state was involved in the process from the start. Another rather sad argument is that the students just aren’t ready for such rigorous study. However, the teachers are finding their students more than ready. While the work is challenging, the kids are excelling.
In no foreseeable future is Montana going to drop their Common Core. Already fully entrenched in the school system only two years after adoption on top of very vocal educational proponents not afraid to call out opponents on their shaky arguments, Montana will remain a part of the movement. For further justification, the teachers point to their students. While the curriculum challenges them to critically analyze everything, it’s been nothing if not proof that harder standards are what they have been waiting for. Through active engagement in a way that makes material feel important due to its connection to real world implications, students across Montana are serving as the poster children for what Common Core can bring to a state.