Educational Reform Without Representation

How I can have reservations about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), especially when its supporters truly believe it will lead to a brighter future for Louisiana students? Supporters claim that it will improve our state ranking, provide rigor, produce college ready students, and enhance our international standing. I know of no other field that would create a new system and simply ask us to trust the awesome results to come. This involves the future of our children, and while I don’t believe the Louisiana Grade Level Expectations were all they could be, I would rather improve the system I have than scrap the whole thing for some brand new fad lacking any research to back it up. I believe kids are too important for this educational experiment.

If something is flawed from the beginning, how is it valid? The people writing CCSS work for these groups: ACT (5 people), the College Board (6), Achieve Inc. (7), Student Achievement Partners (2), America’s Choice (2), an educational consultant, a retired professor, and the founder of Vockleylang, LLC. I was unaware that the ACT and College Board possess some insight into fixing the problems of education that we teachers somehow lack. Even more suspect is Achieve Inc, a Washington D.C.-based group whose major purpose is to align all states so that they have similar goals and expectations. This hints at federal alignment, and the fact that 45 states have adopted CCSS pretty much makes it federal in scope. America’s Choice, a company that designs research-based strategies to help schools dramatically improve student achievement, has not surprising been bought by Pearson, the world’s largest educational company and the designer of the future tests that will accompany CCSS. Student Achievement Partners is a non-profit organization founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba, three members conveniently serving on the CCSS and writing its standards. And VockleyLang is a communications group that specializes in effective message management, or getting people to see a point of view, in this case, Common Core’s.

One cannot ignore that these authors have significant ties to companies that make educational materials and that stand to make piles of money making new textbooks and devising new tests to meet the CCSS. Where were the teachers, the principals, the parents, and the educational psychologists among the 25 authors? Nowhere. How can one ask to improve educational standards and not include any representation from the people who will have to carry out those reforms? To paraphrase the famous quote from American Revolutionary history–taxation without representation–this is “education reform” without representation.

This is why I have, and will continue to have, reservations.

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