Frightened to the Core
As an educator I teach my students to think not just do, because if they know how to think, they will be able to do. I don’t want them to be common, I want them to be exceptional. I want them to feel, I want them to connect, I want them to be prepared, not just for college and future careers, I want them to be prepared for life. To be able to adjust, to be able to infer, to be able to recognize and respect the vast differences of our society and the world. The last thing I want is for them to be instructed via a common set of standards that dictate, what and how they should respond to questions or problems.
To be blunt.. the Common Core frightens me.
I’ve been reading about the new Common Core standards that are being mandated in states across the country. Next year, I’ll be required to follow these standards lockstep and barrel whether I agree with them or not. Even though my teacher contract guarantees academic freedom, I’ll be required to cite each standard I cover during each lesson every minute of the day. I’ll be evaluated basedon tests and evaluations. These evaluations will be used to check up on me to make sure I follow these new standards. I’ve been told, that this is required to ensure that my students are college and career ready. Really? I’ll be teaching 5th grade next year, college and career ready?? What about ready for life??
I have been reading through a transcript of a presentation by David Coleman. David Coleman is considered the chief architect of the Common Core, so I guess we could consider him the expert, right? We’ll there are several things I picked up in this transcript that raises deep deep concerns for me. First of all, his association with Michelle Rhee’s Student First group should raise concerns for anyone mandated by the Common Core . Diane Ravitch clearly lays that concern on Mr. Coleman’s doorstep in her blog.
Mr. Coleman states,
‘remediation is a trap from which very few students escape’.
I find this statement troubling. Is he suggesting that all of the recent research on differentiation, inclusion,and special ed is hog wash? The tremendous effort every district has undertook over the last 2 years implementing Response to Implementation ( RTI) is for nothing. Just what is he suggesting?
Mr. Coleman also states:
‘So the core standards for the first time demand that 50% of the text students encounter in kindergarten through 5th grade is informational text, meaning primarily text about science and history, text about the arts, the text through which students learn about the world.’
Then he goes on to condemn us all ”
That is a major shift and if you think about what’s happening in this country unintentionally literature and stories dominated the elementary curriculum. And then we expanded the literacy block. So we made the literacy block 80% of the time. Guess what that meant? We destroyed history and science in the elementary school.
So reading literature has destroyed science and history in elementary school.
Mr. Coleman fails to recognize that high stakes testing destroyed science and history in elementary school. He further fails to define the term informational text. Would reading ” Number the Stars’ be considered non- informational? Does he consider any literature as informational? Will be forced to have our students only read ‘approved non- fiction’ 50% of the time?
What really bugs me about David Coleman is this statement concerning writing;
“It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a sheet about what you feel or what you think. What they instead care about is can you make an argument with evidence, is there something verifiable behind what you’re saying or what you think or feel that you can demonstrate to me. It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.”
Mr. Coleman, perhaps if we had more people in our society that gave a sheet about what other thought and felt, just perhaps our society would be a little better. Perhaps when a company such as Bain, wants to take over another, a little thought would go into the personal impact. Perhaps, the next time we go into war, more thought would be given to the personal impacts of entering into a war. Maybe just maybe, before a legislator passes a law restricting the voting rights of others, or a law requiring unions can’t negotiate for their members, that legislator would consider the human impact.
I want my students to do much more than just be college and career ready.
Yeah, the Common Core frightens me. Any social experiment that wants everyone to learn via a common core should frighten all of us.