Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rotten to the Common Core

The more I have been immersed up to my eyeballs in Common Core, the more I have discovered I have many concerns about them.  In theory, I like the idea of rigorous standards that are similar across state lines.  But after seeing how the standards are set up, how many there are, and how they are being used, I'm not so much a fan.  The more I learn about the Common Core, the more rotten the whole deal seems.  And I'll be honest -- I live in constant fear that someone in my district will find out how I feel and I will get in trouble for having a dissenting opinion from the powers that be in my district.  Although I freely admit that I have no idea how I haven't been found out -- it's not like I hide my blog posts from anyone.......

Today, a friend of mine shared this article with me, and parts of it just made me see red.  Here's the link to the article (it's long but worth a read), and what follows are some of my thoughts/reactions to what I read.

In terms of the CCSS getting students "college and career ready", here's a quote from the article:
"The substance of the standards themselves is also, in a sense, top down. To arrive at “college- and career-ready standards,” the Common Core developers began by defining the “skills and abilities” they claim are needed to succeed in a four-year college. The CCSS tests being developed by two federally funded multistate consortia, at a cost of about $350 million, are designed to assess these skills. One of these consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, claims that students who earn a “college ready” designation by scoring a level 4 on these still-under-construction tests will have a 75 percent chance of getting a C or better in their freshman composition course. But there is no actual evidence connecting scores on any of these new experimental tests with future college success."

Look at how much money is being spent to develop the tests alone that align with the CCSS.  That number is astronomical!  That's just test development!  That's not curriculum development or costs associated with scoring the tests!  But what really staggers my mind is that the tests being developed by PARCC are not yet finished but PARCC has already developed a scale for scoring the tests and for determining a student's readiness for college.  All without having FINISHED the test or PILOTING the test.  How is this even possible?

Speaking of being ready for college..... "The idea that by next year Common Core tests will start labeling kids in the 3rd grade as on track or not for college is absurd and offensive."

Absurd and offensive are just the start!  Imagine for just a moment that you have a 3rd grader at home if your kids aren't that age.  Imagine how you are going to feel when you get the report sent home from school that based on the test your child took, it has been determined that your child isn't going to make it into college.  This has been determined 10 YEARS before your child is actually going to go to college!  Are you going to tell your child this at age 8?  "Well, honey, this test you took says you didn't score well enough to go to college."  How motivating will that be for a kid to go to school?  What's the point?  It's 3rd grade and he can't make it into college anyway, so why bother?  School sucks!  Yes, labeling kids in 3rd grade as on track for college certainly is absurd and offense as well as damaging and de-motivating and hurtful.

Think that the whole idea is for the students of this country to benefit from these standards?  Think again, o benevolent one: "Having financed the creation of the standards, the Gates Foundation has entered into a partnership with Pearson to produce a full set of K–12 courses aligned with the Common Core that will be marketed to schools across the country. Nearly every educational product now comes wrapped in the Common Core brand name."

Implementing the CCSS has been one of the most lucrative deals ever to come about for publishing companies.  Pearson is a superpower in the education arena and they are set to supernova right through the atmosphere with the establishment of CCSS.  Anything that can have the label CCSS slapped on it and sold will go like hotcakes because all the Kool-Aid drinking CCSS cheerleaders gobble those products up in bulk.  The economy should start booming from all the money being made from every last little thing developed to coordinate with the CCSS.

Now, not everyone supports the CCSS.  "...opposing the Common Core is 'an array of organizations with multimillion-dollar budgets of their own and much experience in mobilizing crowds and lobbying lawmakers, including the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Pioneer Institute, FreedomWorks, and the Koch Bros.' These groups are feeding a growing right-wing opposition to the Common Core that combines hostility to all federal education initiatives and anything supported by the Obama administration with more populist sentiments."

At first, I feel a sense of relief that I'm not alone -- there are others out there who are speaking out against CCSS!  But then I look at the list of who's against it and their reasons and my heart sinks.  These people and organizations are just as radical as the ones who are ramming CCSS down the throats of American schools.  They might actually think the CCSS is a bunch of hooey, but we'll never know for sure because it's all mired in political agendas.  There is no benevolence here; it's just more agenda-pushing.

As a teacher, I have a vested interest in making sure my students are as well prepared as possible for the future, whether that future includes college or entering the workforce.  If I turn out a bunch of ill-informed students, they become problematic citizens -- maybe reliant on welfare, possible living in poverty, potentially unemployable because of lack of skills, possibly ending up in the prison system.  So no teacher wants to go easy on kids because we know damn well where "easy" gets us -- being senior citizens cared for by a generation of people who lack skills to take care of themselves much less the rest of us!  Teachers WANT rigor in their students' education!  Teachers WANT kids to be challenged!  Teachers WANT students to be innovators, problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and critical consumers of information!  Teachers WANT kids to know how to read, write, spell, speak, listen, calculate, and compute!  Teachers WANT kids to understand how the world around them works!  Teachers WANT students to understand the past in order to have a bright and promising future!  Teachers WANT students to be healthy and see the beauty in world!  Anyone who says that teachers who don't like the CCSS because they don't like the added accountability heaped upon them is utterly ridiculous.  Teachers are used to being held unfairly accountable for what their students do.  Teachers are constantly judged by society.  Teachers have endured high-pressure accountability for their entire careers.  So that's not the reason for opposition to the CCSS.  It's because these standards have been developed without any understanding of how education really works in order for companies to amass huge profits -- and do it all for the kids, so it looks neat and pretty.  It helps to further demonize anyone who dares speak out against the CCSS -- oh, you don't like the CCSS?  Then clearly you don't care about children or their education.

This is rotten.

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