Monday, June 18, 2012

Common Core Ills

We need to focus more on common core. Here are just a few tidbits followed by a discussion on the Change the Stakes listserve between parents and teachers.

Susan Ohanian continues her onslaught against Common Core, which you should oppose merely on the ground that both the UFT/AFT and Tweed support it.
Frightened to the Core
R. L. Ratto

The Common Core frightens this elementary teacher. Rightfully so.
Straight Up Conversation: Common Core Architect and New College Board President David Coleman
Rick Hess
Straight Up Education Week blog

Rick Hess interviews David Coleman. Don't blame David Coleman for being very efficient at what he does. Blame NCTE, IRA, NCTM, ASCD, AFT, NEA.

And this on CC:
Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize...
Yong Zhao5:09pm Jun 17
Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core

Read my most recent blog post:
Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core

The wonder drug has been invented, manufactured, packaged, and shipped. Doctors and nurses are being..
A NYC teacher writes on CC:
NY State used some of its discretionary RTTT funds to create Common Core frameworks for Pre-K. This article is one of the scariest pieces of evidence I've seen for the "war against childhood.":

A parent asks:
I'm coming to this a bit late; could someone point me to some materials explaining why national curricula are bad?  Looking at this somewhat ignorantly, arithmetic is arithmetic, physics is physics, biology is biology (even in the states where it's not ;-)), etc., so why oppose national standards?.  Obviously, regional content is important, but it should be possible to strike a balance without losing what's good about common standards in subjects that clearly lend themselves to such standards.  It seems to me that the core problem with the common core is not that it's national -- it's that it's bad (i.e., it's designed to be a cattle chute toward short answer tests, it's simultaneously prescriptive and vague to the point of inscrutability, it's unsupported by realistic research or field testing, etc.).  National curricula (such as those that exist in many nations considered exemplary) don't have to have these flaws.  Am I wrong in my thinking?
 Another parent replies:
That's a great question. What we're seeing with the Common Core is
that the process was so bad -- not transparent, excessively controlled
by the testing companies, etc. -- that many of the original
participants refused to sign off on the final result (see the articles
in Leonie's recent post on the Common Core).

The question I'm asking is, why do we need imposed national standards
for public but not private schools? If there's a basic principle at
stake here, that the nation as a whole has a legitimate,
constitutional interest in dictating learning goals to the nation's
children, why are some categories of children excluded from those

Clearly there are advanced nations with national standards that are
doing fine. But this is the United States. Our great distinguishing
national characteristic is supposed to be the premium we place on
freedom, on individual rights, and the associated dynamism and
creativity of our culture -- which are real. Moreover, our
constitution supposedly delegates the regulation of education to the
states. Since our most comprehensive effort at national standards, the
Common Core, is an unfolding disaster, it does beg the question, why,
in a time of scarcity most especially, but really at any time at all,
should we violate our national traditions of pluralism, individualism
and local control of education to move towards a model that show no
signs of achieving the goals we all supposedly care about -- helping
our children become more creative, flexible thinkers ready for the
ever-changing conditions of the job markets of the future?

 And I chip in:
While it seems obvious that there are certain things that everyone should be taught -- algebra is algebra but the devil is in the details. A national curricula that is mandated vs recommended means it will be measured. And watered down by politics. Can't you see pressure to include intelligent design? Or maybe flat earth to be fair to those who still debunk the "earth is round" theory?
We all know the civil war should be taught, but I can imagine it being taught very differently in different places. Thus an argument for standardizing. But imagine the potential battles over that.

While nations like France have a centralized system we can already see how dangerous NCLB and RTTT have been destructive. The nations you talk about are not driven by destruction of public education with the aim of privatization so we need to look at common core in that context and not as a theoretical basis.
 And this idea from a parent activist in Change the Stakes:
I'm sure someone must have fully developed the following argument, but
it's just occurring to me so I'll share it for possible inclusion in
some form in our evolving position statements.

Two things are clear:

1) In order to avoid having federal and state governments destroy
public education, we must return to local control.

2) Yet there must be some sort of state oversight, or you get
situations like that unfolding in Louisiana in which anyone with a
bank of computer terminals and a few DVDs can set up shop as a school.

I haven't noticed a burgeoning movement of affluent parents protesting
the destructive interference of government in our nation's private
schools. Whatever the accreditation process for private schools, the
rich seem pretty much satisfied with the range of educational
approaches they offer. So let's govern public schools the same way.
They must meet certain very general standards to be accredited, but
after that they get to design their own curricula, choose their own
teaching materials, and make their own determinations about how to
evaluate their staff and students.

It is such an obvious injustice that no one talks about it: in our
country, the state can impose whatever draconion and counterproductive
policies it likes on parents and children who cannot afford to buy
their way out of the system through the option of private schooling,
but the affluent can bypass "standards" and "accountability" at will.
Moreover, the wonderful range of existing public schools in New York
proves that the teachers and principals in the public system are fully
capable of developing as rich and varied a range of schooling options
as those in the private system. What exactly is wrong with offering
the same freedoms to public-school parents that private-school parents

We as a society can choose equity in the domain of school regulation
-- and the beauty of it is it will save taxpayer money, since we can
ditch the fantastically wasteful and destructive accountability
systems now consuming billions of dollars nationwide.

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