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      Why Common Core?

      Since it was introduced to the American public, the Common Core has raised a lot of questions and concerns about the new direction the education of America's children is going.

      And Quincy is no exception.

      So on Saturday the Quincy Federation of Teachers partnered with the Illinois Federation of Teachers to bring in experts and a series of workshops to answer questions and help alleviate concerns of parents, educators and the community.

      "We have a very mobile society and as kids move," Sharon Teefey with the Illinois Federation of Teachers said. "Whether it's here in Quincy, whether it's military families that are constantly on the move. The key is that regardless of where my kid is, in what city, in what state, if I'm in 3rd grade it's known what the expectation, what the benchmark for curriculum will be in that grade throughout the entire country."

      In simple terms that is what Common Core is all about.

      Sharon Teefey and Amy Alsop of the Illinois Federation of Teachers came to Quincy this weekend to help teachers, parents and other concerned citizens understand the transition that is taking place across the nation.

      Carol Frericks, the secondary academic director for the Quincy public school district says that Teefey and Alsop were brought in as a direct response to concerns raised by parents.

      "Last year the QFT held a couple of community forums and parents and community members wanted to know specifically what can they do to help students achieve and to reach these new, higher standards." Frericks said.

      Amy Alsop says that the primary goal of the Common Core is to make american students competitive in the new 21st century world of work.

      "We needed to have standards that were benchmarked to the highest international standards," Alsop said. "And because we had the patchwork of standards that differed across the country,we didn't have that. And the Common Core really gets us to one set of what everyone is expected to be able to know and to be able to do. And to apply their learning to the international standards so that our students can compete with countries like Finland and Singapore."

      One of the keys to accomplishing that goal is a change the process of how kids learn.

      "One of the keys is, it's not memorization. It's really truly analytical thinking and how do we think through a problem, how do we solve that issue," Teefey said. "So the reality is when a new situation approaches that child, they have more of a basis, more of a background, more of a foundation from which to draw on and then they can put those pieces together to solve the problem. So the key is to really get a bigger, stronger foundation inside a student from which they can gain from real life experiences in the future."

      Another major misconception Teefey and Alsop cleared up is that the Common Core is a federally mandated curriculum.

      They say that is wrong and that districts still have the ultimate say in the what resources it uses to reach those benchmarked standards.