The turbulent, anecdotal cornucopia of Common Core horror stories could fill several volumes many times over. This story from the Washington Post from November 30th truly horrifies me that some states are so rigidly defining their lessons as to rob their primary assets–the teachers–of their creativity. At first I found it hard to believe that some states force their teachers to enact a pre-designed lesson word-for-word, but apparently this is so.
The teacher states, “I’ve dedicated my life to teaching children, but with CCSS [Common Core State Standards], teaching children is no longer the point.”
In this article by the intrepid Valerie Strauss–link to the article included at the end–she quotes a teacher who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, and make no mistake, the administrators would retaliate against this. In short simple sentences, this teacher exposes the naked truth about Common Core: “Standards drive instruction. Data determines effectiveness. Positive outcomes for students requires proof. If I don’t supply that proof, I’m not an effective teacher. Period. And my administration has warned me that my job depends on this proof.” Can’t get more explicit than that. Meet the standards, have students pass the test, or you’re fired. Plain and simple.
Here’s where I rant: WE ARE NOT SALESPERSONS! We are NOT in the same business as meeting a sales quota! There are people who are gifted at sales, and then there are people who are gifted at teaching. It is infinitely more difficult to determine success in the latter group than the former, and yet governors, education reformers, state superintendents, and BESE board members are treating us likes salespersons, with a meet-the-quota-or-you’re-fired mentality.
The teachers states, “I’ve dedicated my life to teaching children, but with CCSS [Common Core State Standards], teaching children is no longer the point.” The teacher also noted that “I’ve never had a student thank me for writing insightful test questions or for staying up late to write a stunning lesson plan. But students HAVE thanked me for being there, for listening to them, for encouraging them, for believing in them even before they could believe in themselves.”
From some of the things this teacher writes, I would be proud to know such a teacher and work side-by-side with him or her.
I would never associate with those administrators, superintendents, boards of education members, and designers of Common Core, who in their quest to do good, are actually doing incredible harm. In their blind quest to fix things, they forget that their blindness undermines all their efforts.
Here’s where I’m happy to be in Louisiana. Either through ineptitude on the part of the Department of Education, or simply due to the fiercely-independent spirit in Southern Louisiana, we are not, thank goodness, is the same boat as that poor teacher. In some districts, we still have brave leaders and principals who understand that teaching is a highly individualized activity, and just as students learn in different ways, teachers teach in equally valuable ways. If there are teachers out there experiencing this kind of inservitude, I wish they would contact me, because such a dictatorial approach to teaching is akin to indoctrination and anathema to the dignity of the teacher. Our kids are unique, and our teaching style are equally so.
As the holiday season approaches, I wish all teachers the courage to be themselves, to continue making a difference in the lives of their students, and to banish the dread and fear that comes directly from Louisiana’s botched implementation of Common Core. Do not be complacent, however. Constant vigilance is necessary in taking on this educational Goliath.
- More states delay Common Core testing as concerns grow (washingtonpost.com)