Opine I will

I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Why?

Why is our public education system being labeled as failing when graduations rates are at historical highs and achievement gaps are rapidly closing?

Why are teacher’s being categorized as either effective or ineffective based on any test?

Why do we allow communities’ most important asset, its schools, to be chopped up, divided, leased out, closed, neglected, and given away for political gain?

Why are we abusing our children with test prep, test booklets, test coaching, pretests, benchmark tests, posttests, and multi-hour multi day state tests?

Why do very small powerful committees in  46 states think it’s alright to adopt the un- piloted, un-tested Common Core Standards as a prerequisite to a Race to the Top award promise?

Why do these same people turn a blind eye to the very dangerous national social experiment that shuns the very diversity that has made our nation the economic powerhouse and model of the world?

Why would we accept the premise that no one gives a shit what you think?

Why do we allow the decimation of local community schools and think it’s alright to have 5 year old children commute to any school?

Why do we allow the ‘application’ to any local community school?

Why are we closing schools that need improvement instead of improving them?

Why do we continue the segregation of education?

Why do allow any governor to prevent local communities from fully funding their schools via a democratic process?

Why are labor unions suddenly being labeled as the problem, when historically they have prevented and solved many problems?

Why have we abandoned the notion that teachers should be respected?

Why do we ignore poverty and pretend it’s the poor’s fault?

Why do allow companies like Pearson to make billions while many teachers can barely afford to live on their meager salaries in most of this country?

Why have we turned a blind eye to the extensive research on education and instead believe people like Gates, Rhee, Coleman, Stein, and other so called reformers?

Why is it that a country that once was able to build the Empire State Building in one year, built the Interstate system, developed the TVA, and put men on the moon, cannot ensure that our neighborhood schools are in good physical shape?

Why are our children not safe in schools or in their neighborhoods, due to the lack of gun control?

Why are children still coming to school hungry?

Why is it viewed as a terrible thing to ensure all of our nation’s children have adequate health care?

Why are so many of our nation’s teachers being laid off at the same time the stock market is at historical highs?

Why have we lost our way as a nation?

The Common Core is un-American

Are the Common Core Learning Standards (CCSS), adopted by 46 states, un-American? I think so.

To accuse anything of being un-American is a serious accusation.  I’ve been mulling this disturbing conclusion around for several months now.  Please keep in mind, I don’t do this lightly. I know there will be feedback, some positive and some negative. But there are times that one must just call it as they see it.

As a lacrosse referee (my second job), I make the calls based on what I see. I make calls, not merely to assess penalties but to ensure the game is played fairly. Often I am criticized because others don’t see what I saw. Most of the times, it is because positioning is critical for making a good call. A good referee hustles to be in position.  Fans and coaches are not in the  right spot to see the action most of the time.  You can’t ref from the sidelines; you have to be in the game .

I’ve been in position to make this call. Being a 5th grade teacher, I’m in the middle of this “game” called CCSS. I’m observing the hits, the slashes, and the injuries due to standards that are based on the force ideals of those who claim they know what’s best for our nation. These same people, who really haven’t played the game, who haven’t been on the field are standing on the sidelines, making calls that will affect the outcome of this game. Our nation will ultimately lose this game if we continue with this game plan.

The Common Core reveals its un-American aspects in the introduction of every standard.  It states, “Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.” Really?  Those of us in the game often expect a goal to be scored, and when we see a player slip in the mud and miss the net do we label him as a failure? Is the coach to blame?  This national social experiment (CCSS) expects all children to master skills at the same time. It expects us to lock step our students from grade to grade, mastering preceding grade level material, always advancing, never retreating. Those who slip in the mud (poor test performance) will be labeled as under-performing  their coaches will be labeled as ineffective. It’s un-American to label our teachers and our students. Ignoring the challenges our students face very day; poverty, sickness, family issues, adequate resources, etc., is turning a blind eye to the mud that our children must maneuver though during the play of the their game of life.

Those “sideline coaches” shout that this grand social experiment (CCSS) will guarantee all children will be college and career ready. Yet they ignore the diversity that is America. The Common Core mandates specific skills, algorithms, percentage of fiction vs. non- fiction read, how essays should be worded, how arguments should be presented, and it even demands the stifling of personal opinions. David Coleman, architect of the Common Core has even said, no one gives a ‘sheet’ what you think.When diversity is seen as the problem, we  erode the fabric of our national identity. Unfortunately that’s the path Coleman and the other proponents of this social experiment are taking us.

The United States Constitution ( our rule book) tells us the responsibility of education remains with the states. Our Founding Fathers knew that regional differences, regional needs and regional values should be honored. They understood that local control of education was important to the well being of our nation. The CCSS shatters those ideals. Having all students learn the same thing at the same time, from coast to coast does not take into consideration the individual needs of local communities and regions. Imagine what our lacrosse game would look like if all coaches used the same play book. Imagine if all players had the same skill set. Should they all wear the same uniforms too?  Is this what we really want for our students?

As a nation we should be providing opportunities for our students to develop skill sets that will allow them to try “a new shot” without the fear of failing.  We should be encouraging our teachers to try out new game plans to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of the diverse students they coach. We should proudly demonstrate that all of our students are not the same, that we allow them to develop at different rates. As a nation we should not allow those who shout from the sidelines to affect the game. Our referees (our tests) should be used to ensure the game is fair and not be used to only assess penalties.

The Common Core is un-American. I would call any national standards un-American. There is no such thing as a “standard child” or a “standard America”.  Some say, standards ensures fairness for all. They say it ensures that the child in Mobile, Alabama, get the same education as the child from Nassau County, New York.  Those of us in this game know that fairness does not mean everyone gets the same thing. Fairness means everyone gets what they need to succeed. The needs are as diverse as our nation.  Common Core ignores that.

Lacrosse originated in the Iroquois nation. It is the oldest organized sport in America .A true American tradition.  It was used to settle disputes and it was instrumental in keeping the Iroquois Confederation together. The amazing thing is, the rules were changed for every game, and there were no boundaries or “out of bounds”. It can be called a true American game that evolved with every game played. The Common Core has set strict boundaries, it prevents free thought, it requires that we all have the same game plan, and it is dividing our nation. It is un-American.

Ask any teacher, that is in the game and is in the right position to make the call, listen to the coaches, and  talk to the players about the Common Core. They’ll tell you that the game is being taken over by those in the stands, those on the sidelines, those who have no idea about the game. They’ll tell you that those who want to take over this game are more interested in hedging their bets as they try to manipulate us all.

That’s not the America I want.

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