“Common Core’s here, it’s a done deal, and we might as well get used to it” appears to be the stock reply.
I read the Lafayette Advertiser‘s article ” Common Core Needed in Louisiana to Improve College, Job Performance” by Amanda McElfresh. I noted the speakers present: United Way of Acadiana CEO Margaret Trahan, University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie, Lafayette High School Instructional Strategist Amy Deslattes, Lafayette Parish Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper, BESE Board Member Holly Boffy, and Parents Empowered Founder Heather Blanchard. (Full disclosure: I taught Joe Savoie’s son twice in math and I work at Lafayette High School alongside Amy Deslattes.) These are all good, hard-working people, and any meeting that discusses Common Core is a good thing. This meeting, however, was TOTALLY one-sided with a group of panelists all in support of Common Core. Whoever held this meeting did a disservice to parents, teachers, and any adults who have legitimate concerns about how Common Core was created, how it has produced age-inappropriate materials, and how it minimized the input of teachers, parents, and educational psychologists from the very inception of Common Core.
I am most baffled at how most supporters of Common Core, and I am not implying the people mentioned above, hardly blink an eye when people raise concerns about how Common Core was developed in the first place. When opponents point out that no teachers in grades K-12 served on the Standards Work Group that wrote the standards, the only answer given is that thousands of educators gave their input, though exactly what that input was and how it was handled is never explained. The undeniable fact is that no teachers served on that group, and inviting people to give suggestions after the fact is not truly involvement, it’s window-dressing. When opponents point out that a growing number of prominent professors, notably Dr. James Milgram, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, and Dr. Ze’ev Wurman, decry its deficiencies, the circle-the-wagons answer is we must do something to fix education for our students. When opponents point out justifiably that simply moving harder material down a grade level or two ignores the chemistry of the brain and its ability to absorb some age-inappropriate material, the answer … is usually not to answer. Supporters appear apoplectic that we don’t just bow down in prostration at their incredible program funded largely by Bill Gates. Supporters seem unfazed by the legitimate concerns of parents and the very teachers who have to carry out these so-called reforms. Supporters don’t really listen to our concerns, and instead launch pro-Common Core rallies like the panel above, who, interestingly enough, never addressed the concern about how Common Core was developed in the first place. “Common Core’s here, it’s a done deal, and we might as well get used to it” appears to be the stock reply.
In the future, there should be meetings that involves ALL the stakeholders woefully absent from the panel: parents, teachers, principals, and educational psychologists. Having only business leaders, university professors, and pro-Common Core educators does not present the whole picture, and while their input is valuable, those persons do not work in the classroom day after day working on the ever-changing quicksands of Common Core and its haphazard implementation in Louisiana. Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly, and Common Core was developed in a way to ostracize certain groups (parents, teachers, principals, educational psychologists) and promote a selective agenda. Please stop thinking a louder chorus of pro-Common Core propaganda is going to assuage the voices of the anti-Common Core crowd. Not inviting us to the discussion is a sign of disrespect and will not persuade us that you actually listen to us or take our concerns seriously.