Published Online: December 1, 2009

PTA Launches Campaign Backing Common Standards

By Sean Cavanagh

A national organization, with philanthropic backing, is launching a campaign to build support for common academic standards among a potentially influential constituency: parents.


The National Parent Teacher Association has received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to begin organizing parental support for setting more uniform academic expectations in four states: Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina.


The undertaking is one of the most visible examples to date of how backers of the standards endeavor, known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative, are trying to lay a foundation for those documents’ adoption—and their eventual use—in school districts and individual classrooms.


The National PTA, which has 5.2 million members, [down in number considerably in the last few years MM] could expand its efforts beyond those four states to other parts of the country by the middle of next year.


In debates over education policy, parents tend to be a “forgotten voice at the table,” said Erin Hart, the director of strategic alliances, partnerships, and programs for the Chicago-based National PTA. “We’re interested in holding the school districts accountable and being the collective voice of the community that says, ‘This is important.’ ”


Forty-eight states have agreed to work on creating more consistent academic standards through the common-core project. The venture is being led by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, two Washington organizations that work closely with states.


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