Thanks for your thought provoking article, Susan. The importance of the subject cannot be exaggerated.
I by no means have your depth of expertize on the issue but I have always been uneasy at the way Common Core has been slipped, mostly unnoticed and undiscussed, into our formerly independent State education system.
The dual architects and benefactors of this plan, politics (government) and profits (private industry) appear to have deliberately discouraged open discussion and public agreement in favor of the official pay-off.
I too was surprised at the surrender of the Statesboro Herald; so much for independent local news.
Susan, I read this yesterday, but took a day to digest and develop my thoughts.
I think you hit the root of the issue with the money and profits. The government feels that schools should be run like businesses (maybe some aspects should). The plan seems to be that teachers are elements of production and students are output products. Teachers must produce products of similar quality and students are "quality tested" multiple times (ad nauseum!!) to ensure they meet the standards. The success rate is used to trumpet the success of the school/system/state. The plans and testing criteria are provided (with a good margin for profit) by educational companies. That is a my broad overview.
The problem is that teachers are NOT machines and students are NOT widgets and this philosophy will ultimately fail. This pending failure has and will cause great damage to our country. Education now is "teaching the test." Very few educators actually have a chance to 'teach' below the college level.
Ever had a high school student try to make change without using the register? Ever ask a high school student to make a 3 or 4 way connection in American History or even a science? The students are learning the what they need to pass the CC tests, but they are not LEARNING to recognize, process, and use information. To adapt an old adage - students can identify the most common types of fish, but they have no idea where the fish came from, much less how to catch one.
I understand the need to access educational success. I understand the need to measure teacher effectiveness. I don't think either of these is a factor in CC. Rather I see a profit machine and a system of institutional control. I also see a lack of accountability, but that is another comment.
The same " reformers" are at work in state colleges across the country. In an effort to churn out ever more college graduates, young Turks sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have adopted the business model created by proprietary colleges such as the University of Phoenix --- hardly a model of academic excellence. The end result is entirely predictable as higher education follows the same feckless policies imposed by NCLB and Race to the Top, a sobriquet dripping with irony as American education races to the bottom.
What I got from the editorial by Charles Wilson, BC Schools Superintendent, in today’s newspaper was that the “noise and uncertainty” of further debate of Common Core Standards should be eliminated in order to go ahead, under his leadership, with a “strategic plan” developed by the Bulloch County Board of Education.
The rest of the article appeared to be a fill in of heroic jingoisms and aimless generalities.
Charlie... You hit it all right on point. Our teachets are not machines and our kids are not numbets nor are they a product. And, imabine....they don't all learn the same way, or at the same speed.
I want to scream that last statement at the top of my lungs.
Thanks for all the comments everyone. Now we need voices. And Passin.... i agree with you. I will discuss my concerns directly with Charles Wilson. He and I have always had a very good rapport. But I will be telling him for sure....he lost me with "rigorous" I case any of you wonder why....rigor means harsh and inflexible. I will no longer accept that word as part of our mission statement.
Rigorous also means, "done carefully and with a lot of attention to detail"; which is something O would think desirable in any endeavor.
Fortunately both of my sons have completed their schooling, including college. They both received excellent education - elementary and secondary -in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. All before NCLB.
From what I know about Common Core (and it is obviously far less than Susan) it appears no more damaging to education than NCLB and would perhaps take our "no nothing" legislators out of the equation with their pompous posturing and ill-informed allegations about Federal intrusion or whatever bugaboo is currently lurking in their closets.
I agree wholeheartedly with Charlie (Hell just dropped 15 degrees) that the educational process cannot be treated as business with interchangeable machines (teachers) pruducing standard widgets (graduates). This doesn't mean the administrative side of education (plant, facilities, etc.) should not.
All teachers are different. We all had our favorites, maybe because of skill or subject matter. We all had our worst - for whatever reason. All students are different as well. We "knew" who were the smartest kids. Just as we "knew" who were the "dumbest" (at least at book learning). But when you get down to brass tacks, it is the students' responsibility to learn. It is the teachers' responsibility to present the required information in the manner which generates the best potential for learning. Now, if you want to debate what should be the required information, or how to gauge teacher effectiveness, or assess student learning without teating, have at it! Because I don't believe there is a one size fits all solution.
(And I won't deign to begin to write about parental involvement.)
The comments posted on this blog represent a fair sampling of the political spectrum and probably a fair representation of the electorate ,so why are these policies being imposed upon us? I think it's time to start asking some fundamental questions.
fly, my guess (which is all anyone can offer) the poor US rankings among other nations vis a vis standardized testing in math and science seized upon by administration and legislative officials as a problem to be solved. Combine that with low graduation percentages, the loss of non- and semi-skilled manufacturing jobs necessitating more technology savvy employees, and the obvious need for some consistency of standards in a country as large and diverse as ours. TADA! A perfect storm ready for curing.
But, if you want to shift to fundamentals - decline in two parent households; decline in parental involvement (not necessarily the fault of parents who may work multiple jobs or be subject to changes like Bulloch County schools' open houses at the beginning of the school year being held during the day rather than the early evening as done previously); a culture lacking respect for education for the sake of education - the joy of knowing stuff: not just to get a degree or a job but just to know; and the list goes on and on...
Bryant, No one could fault anything you have written. And the problem is certainly not new. Terrel Bell, Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration, produced a a watershed document entitled A Nation at Risk, a clarion call for educational reform. What is new is the cavalier way that one hundred years of cognitive pyschology and educational practice have been summarily dismissed.Also new is the increasingly authoritiarian approach to educational reform which dismisses the value of teachers,discounts humanity,and undermines our long and fruitful experiment with public education.
Increasingly every aspect of public life is determined by policies drafted by think tanks, large foundations and corporate interests and every interest but the public interest is being served.We have more to fear from the corporate takeover of the public square than the creeping socialism that receives so much attention in the public imagination.
OK Folks, here is the other part of my beef with CC and business type metrics. It removes any sense of accountability.
I remember when at least once a year (it seemed) some fast burning 'investigative reporter' would do an expose' on why "Johnny can't read." It was usually an athlete who had been passed along in the system by teachers who didn't teach. About the same time, some idiot somewhere convinced academia that all children could learn, and a that a failure to progress was not a sign of a failing student, or a lazy student, or an absent student... no - it was the TEACHER who was incompetent. He or she had managed to pass high school and college, and yet they were not the ones who did not know how to educate others. There were lawsuits and firing and strikes, etc. Lastly, there really were (are) incompetent teachers who are defended to the bitter end by teacher’s unions more interested in defending their member than helping to ensure a quality education is available to all children.
How does all this fall to accountability?
Well, if the teacher is to blame, no one has to face the parents (and their lawyer and special interest groups, etc) and try to explain that Johnny didn't do his homework. No one has to face the BoE and news cameras and try to explain that when kids are more interested in screwing off than getting educated, and the parents don't care and the schools can't enforce attendance and disciplinary standards, then the kids end up being dumb – uneducated burdens on society.
And on the other side – sometimes you have good teachers who are let go simply because their students didn't do well on the tests. No administrator has to make a decision or an excuse.. just don’t renew their contract. Then… when you do have a bad teacher - he or she is hidden and protected by being coached into "just teach the test" lesson plans. No one has to tell Ms X who has been teaching nothing for 15 years that she isn't teaching, she is babysitting. School administrators can become "administrators" instead of leaders. And the unions can claim ‘there’s nothing we can do’ while they still collect all the union dues.
No accountability means that no students are held accountable for their part in the learning process. No accountability means no teacher is accountable for what they do or do not teach, just for the scores of the children in their classes. No accountability means that when the Superintendent or the BoE decides some teacher needs to move on, no one has to tell them why, just tell them they didn't score well enough in the CC metrics.
There's my rant - written on the fly.
When George W. Bush was pushing No Child Left Behind, I went on line and read all eight hundred plus pages. It was a patchwork of ideas thrown together with little thought behind it. Just put something out there so we can claim credit for doing something about education, seemed to be the purpose behind it. NCLB did not encroach any further into local school board control of education by the federal government, then what was already happening.
Common Core is different. It is designed to take what is left of local school board control and transfer it to the Federal government. It will cement the supremacy of the federal government over all levels (local, state and federal ) involvement in educating our children. The newspaper editorial stated that the State of Georgia stood to lose over a billion dollars in Federal education funds for not implementing Common Core Standards. So who is in charge of educating our children under this plan?
Education is one of the many powers (Rights) retained by the States under the 10th Amendment. The Federal Government has NO Constitutional authority to be involved in the education of children. Education is not listed in Article I section 8 of the Constitution. It is therefore, a 10th Amendment States’ Right. Not a Federal government responsibility. Just because the Federal government has been involved for some time in education, does not make it Constitutional. Our Federal government is doing a lot of things it has no Constitutional authority to do. The Federal Government is limited to those areas enumerated in Article I section 8, but it is doing many others unlawfully.
Stop Common Core now before it is to late.
P.S. Anyone old enough to have been schooled when the times tables were memorized up to the twelve times table or phonics to sound out words instead of the whole word method, or when spelling counted all the time, when textbooks were taken home an read, when rote work was used to learn math formulas, and looking up the definition of words was required, …. I’ll stop here, but you get the point. These old and true standards to learning are nowhere to be found except in the top ten percent of students who’s parents school their children in them at home. Finally, children must read the material in their textbook, than they must write it down…. take notes, do exercises, homework ect., and finally they must discuss the material in class and in study groups to learn it and understand it, before taking a test. These three required functions of learning are not being followed in our schools. We don’t need another Federal Government program to get back to the tried and true methods of learning.
Bryant.... first of all "the poor US ranking" was made up! fictional! Doesn't exist! It was said and everyone just simply bought it...hook, line, and sinker.
It was created in order to put in place a set of standards that would accomplish an agenda. Education was politicized.
And let me clarify something on your comment...... yes... Common Core is no better than NCLB. for the record.... I despised NCLB and spoke about it often. (Go back to my archived blogs)
My mom taught under NCLB, and she opposed it. Not only did she oppose it but she bravely snubbed it! And guess what..... she had some of the most successful students come out of her classroom.
By the way... the word "Rigor" chosen by many Georgia school districts was used with the intent of the definition being "Hard; challenging". those words are not actually found in any definition of "Rigor". But we certainly have achieved the "inflexible" part of it.