Here I Take My Stand

Most people know where I stand on the issue of Common Core, but in case anyone missed it, let me state it firmly and clearly.

I am against Common Core. It violates every fiber of my being as a teacher.

Here’s why I’m against it.

I’m against any system written by outsiders who have little or no educational, classroom experience, but who claim to have the answers to the falsely-manufactured crisis of education in America. A soul who’s never set foot in a classroom should not have dictatorial power over what—or more crucially, how—I teach in my classroom.

I’m against any system that over-emphasizes high stakes testing. I wish it were possible to have a clear, final way to determine how successful schools, teachers, and principals are, but it’s an inexact science at best. It’s difficult to quantify the art of teaching.

I’m against any system that links declining student scores SOLELY to teachers as if we were some magical cure for societal problems. Poverty and social issues are often the core of any student performance, but I don’t see legislators trying to fix those. Instead, they blame teachers. We’re an identifiable target, capable of being fired to please the public mood. Legislators find it much easier to fire a teacher than to fire poverty.

I’m against any system that labels a third grader who fails one test as not being college ready. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize a third grader is not ready for college, but that test-label has certainly destroyed that child’s self-esteem. Something that precious is almost impossible to rebuild.

I’m against any system using the word “rigorous.” It has too many definitions and synonyms with highly negative connotations: exhaustive, strict, severe, unsparing, inflexible, Draconian, intransient, and uncompromising. These words should never be associated with American education. I prefer the words strong and vigorous.

Here’s what I support.

I support devising an effective curriculum with input from real educators, classroom teachers, principals, counselors, and child psychologists. Common Core would not be the disaster it is now had the key players included those critical stakeholders from the beginning.

I support respect for teachers, parents, principals, and counselors. The people who devised and are promoting Common Core left these crucial people out of the equation. That’s not a sign of respect.

I support educational leaders who genuinely want to improve education in ways that promote a healthy work environment. Governors who threaten teachers and call schools “failure factories” create a hostile work environment and further erode the system they claim to be helping. Superintendents and BESE Board members who keep promoting charter schools as the solution also denigrate the system for which they supposedly work.

I support age-appropriate instruction. I have seen lessons involving pimps, heroine addiction, marital infidelity, sexuality, obeying government officials, and machine guns. Authors of such material have an agenda, not the welfare of the students, in mind.

I support creating a future generation of people who find something they love to do in life. Taking a high stakes test is something very few people enjoy.

Now you know where I stand. I stand on the side of children, parents, educators, principals, and counselors. I stand for the future.

Where do you stand?

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Here I Take My Stand

  1. Bret

    I believe we should simply continue using the National Councils of Education that we were using to determine what should be taught BEFORE outside influences began pushing Common Core instead of reinventing the wheel. My state standards have been based on national standards since I started teaching 20 years ago…and it was explained to me in undergraduate that these national standards are relatively common to all states.

  2. Jeff

    I stand with you. Not only is Common Core dangerous, the COMPASS evaluation system imposed on us in Louisiana is dangerous because it is driving good teachers out of education at a rapid rate. I am one of those teachers who retired this year (although there were some other situations that pushed me into my decision). One of my friends is a teacher with over 30 years of experience who is a tremendous teacher. Because her students (from a high-poverty, low-education area) didn’t do well on the tests at the end of school, she was rated as “ineffective”. This is her last year to teach. The story is repeated all over Louisiana. When we were first introduced to COMPASS in the fall of 2012, I told my principal to go ahead and give me a 0 on a couple of the areas because I have never used group work or activities, and would not do it. I have never seen any value in them. The idea of having students (who don’t have the knowledge) teach each other is ludicrous.

    I enjoy your blog. Keep on telling it like it is!

    Jeff

  3. Bret

    Jeff,
    My co-worker scored above the 90th percentile on his VAM last year and received a low 2 score on Compass. I scored in the 80th percentile and scored a low 3. The confusing aspect of this is that our students returned some of the highest scores in the state of LA last year (highly effective for both of us), but our Compass observation rubric either makes us look like incompetent teachers or it insufficiently defines good teaching. I tend to believe in the VAM more because it uses so much more objective data than the subjective Compass rubric (although the VAM is highly suspect, too).

    If the Compass rubric is to be believed, then the obvious goal of the dept of ed is to create a shift in teaching styles from teacher-directed to student-directed. I’m so tired of people telling me what/how to teach, it ain’t even funny…but yet they pretend we can choose what/how to teach this Common Core…that is, with the pressure that what we chose may not test well and we will be placed in corrective action. What will I choose? Something that results in proven student test scores…thanks for the “freedom”! We just have to wait for this “curriculum” to surface so we can plagiarize it liberally!

    Now, I could live with a “student-centered” teaching style reform IF they didn’t link my job “value” to student VAM scores. Oddly enough, my VAM happens to be higher with my low Compass score than the VAM of teachers with high Compass scores (the ones that will tell, anyway). So one measure tells me I am one of the best in the state (the one I intend to stick with since it directly affects the kids) while the other “exposes” tremendous room for improvement (which I COULD give my principal a “dog and pony show” on observation day while I continue to teach the way I have for the past 20 years because the kids score better). It is enough to make any sane teacher exit this profession at his/her earliest convenience!

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