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Calkins, Fariña mentor, warns of Common Core “interpretations”

Lucy Calkins gave a talk Thursday about literacy instruction and the Common Core standards.
Lucy Calkins gave a talk Thursday about literacy instruction and the Common Core standards.
Patrick Wall

Calkins, a pioneer of the “balanced literacy” approach to reading and writing instruction, made the comment during a talk Thursday evening at Teachers College, where she runs the Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop program.

She was urging new city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña not to take a narrow view of what should be considered Common Core-aligned teaching. The new standards can perhaps be reached through “close reading” and whole-class texts, she said, but they don’t have to be.

Fariña, who has cited Calkins as a mentor, has indicated support for the Common Core. But she hasn’t yet signaled how she will steer the city’s ongoing implementation of the standards, which continues to frustrate many teachers. (Here’s our coverage of what Fariña’s past — including her ties to Calkins — might say about her future with the Common Core.)

Former education department chief Joel Klein pushed schools to adopt Calkins’ reading and writing program early in his tenure, and Fariña oversaw its implementation when she was deputy chancellor. But Klein later backed away from that model, and when the city recommended Common Core-connected curriculums last year, Calkins’ program was not on its list.

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