Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Common Core’s fundamental trouble

This detailed article yet again reminds us as educators, those on the front lines, actually in the classroom, that the Common Core State Standards are not the "how" you teach.  In many K-3 cases, it's not even the "what" you should teach.  Developmental age versus numerical age is grossly broad in every single elementary public school classroom universally.  This is the cornerstone of child development and has been studied and restudied throughout the decades.

So, how do we distinguish between politics and real education?  As an educator for over 20 years, sadly I feel I have very little to share on this.  I want so badly to ignore the politics.  I want to just do what I know is right and works for kids, which, by the way, is different each year as new classes are different each year.

But, we can't bury our heads.  Then it is an affirmation that what is happening is okay.  We say, "You are right," by saying nothing.  The authors assert:
... by very publicly measuring the test results against benchmarks no real schools have ever met, NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them. By the time the first decade of NCLB was over, more than half the schools in the nation were on the lists of “failing schools” and the rest were poised to follow.
In reality, NCLB’s test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them.
The tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards. Yet the conclusion drawn by sponsors of the Common Core was that the solution was “more challenging” ones. This conclusion is simply wrong.
Analytic data reviewed by educators and action plans put in place?  I think not.  Politics.  Plain and simple.  Let's not forget the business part as well.  The two major companies and the special interests that are funding and publishing "guides" and "workbooks", you guessed it, not educators either.
Unfortunately there’s been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one.
As usual, as professionals, we will continue to do the right thing for our students while trying to appease the "new" recycled ideas of our very shrewd politicians and businessmen.  Who, by the way, must have had some excellent teachers.

The Common Core's fundamental trouble