Just what is “college and career readiness” and “rigor” that is we are being told is a necessary component of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? These terms slip off the tongues of CCSS proponents effortlessly, like saliva slobbering off a St. Bernard eager for the self-assuring pat on the head of their master. Shouldn’t we be guiding our students to be contributing members of society rather than focusing on some made up term meant to sell a product?
To make the statement that all students will be college and career ready by the time they graduate high school is nothing more than a self-serving sales ploy meant to drive an ideological agenda. We now have schools across the country, demanding that elementary students be placed on this made up paradigm or they will be doomed as failures. Kindergarten teachers are being watched to ensure that every single one of their students start off on this pathway, regardless of their economic, social, emotional, or developmental diversity.
Teachers are being evaluated as to how well they adapt to this new paradigm that magically promises our nation a new economic future. Regardless of where you teach, regardless of who you teach, regardless of the resources you have available, you must walk… MUST.. walk in unison with other teachers across the nation. You are being watched, evaluated, and you will be placed in the public eye if you do not follow this new paradigm.
So what is college and career ready? Am I doing my students a disservice by reading a difficult text to them and not having them struggle through it? Does reading to my 5th grade students Lyddie by Katherine Paterson and discussing the trials and tribulations of the mill girls of the 19th century make them ready? How about Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee? Will my students be deemed college and career ready if I spend time exploring prejudices with them? If a couple of my students, just can’t quite handle basic math facts just yet, will they be doomed to a life without a career? Will I be labeled a failure? If I have my class watch the movie Shenandoah ? Am I doing them a disservice?
Does having my 11 year old students sit through 540 minutes of CCSS assessments really inform my teaching? Does it help them become productive members of society? Does having my students sit through hours of district pre and post assessments meant to evaluate me really help them? Will following CCSS modules that have not been piloted or researched and that ignores Blooms taxonomy, ensure my students a successful life? We all know the answers, but why have we not put an end to this madness?
Look at the definition of rigor, is this what we want in our schools? CCSS is creating a rigidity that will destroy our future as a diverse nation. The needs of the students of Montana are very different that the needs of the students on Long Island. To assume that rigor is needed to meet those needs, takes us back in time before educational research.
I believe we really want vigor. I want my students to be independent and courageous lifetime learners. If they need extra time to decide on a career or decide to go to college or not, as long as they are independent and are not afraid to learn new things, challenge the norm and contribute to society in a meaningful way, then I have done my job. I do not want my students to march lockstep through their academic lives, following some new paradigm developed with a political agenda.
Folks this battle for the minds of our children is not over..