Increasingly, the conversation about Common Core is dominated by politics and controversy. It has become so loud and shrill that it’s easy to forget that across the country are countless superintendents, principals, and teachers who are seizing the opportunity to challenge themselves to change the way they work to provide a better education for their students.

I remain as optimistic about the promise of the Common Core as I was when I first reviewed the standards four years ago. I believe that ultimately Common Core will succeed or fail based not on what politicians say but, rather, based on what teachers and school leaders do. That’s why I’m proud to take on a new opportunity to bring the Common Core—combined with the power of Core Knowledge—to a network of urban Catholic schools as its superintendent.

In March 2013, the Archdiocese of New York signed a landmark deal with the Partnership for Inner-City Education to support six inner-city Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx. This is the first time that an independent organization has been given the opportunity to manage a set of schools in the Archdiocese of New York, and the agreement builds upon the Partnership’s 20-year track record and unwavering commitment to inner-city Catholic education. This is a team of principals, teachers, and leaders who are dedicated to charting a new course for urban Catholic education. I'm proud to join them.

On a personal note, this is also bit of a homecoming for me. I am a Catholic school alumnae, and I got my start in teaching in an urban Catholic school. My mother, who grew up in the projects in the South Bronx, attended Immaculate Conception, one of the six schools in the Partnership’s network. ICS helped lift her family out of poverty, and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the role Catholic education played in all of our lives.

Now more than ever in America, we need schools that work for kids who have a lot of things working against them. We need to create environments that are calm and loving but also set a high bar for both character and content. Then, we need to help our children rise to the challenge. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with the principals and teachers at these six great Partnership schools in the collective endeavor to provide their students with the amazing education they deserve. And I look forward to sharing some of the on-the-ground challenges and lessons that I learn in the process here at Common Core Watch

As I take up my new assignment, Robert Pondiscio, the Fordham Institute’s new senior fellow and vice president for external affairs and an experienced educator and curriculum expert, will be joining me as coeditor of the blog. And look for a variety of new voices to add common-sense perspectives on the Common Core.

In the meantime, please follow our efforts at the Partnership by following us on Twitter at @Partnership_NYC. And for those of you who are predisposed, a prayer or two would be welcome, too.