An Honest Editorial, or a Shiller for PARCC and Common Core?

Stop Common Core

From the Advertiser came fluffy propaganda on Sunday, declaring that the PARCC tests were a “step toward progress.”

I have the courage of my convictions and am willing to put my name to my words. It’s a shame certain members of the editorial board lack that courage.

Whether intended or not, unnamed editorials tend to be seen more as a sign of cowardice than a statement of conviction. Instead of resembling a measured statement of rational minds, the editorial had more in common with pro-Common Core press releases.

A step toward progress? Really? It has been well documented that twenty-five authors, none of them teachers and lacking expertise in writing standards, wrote the Common Core Standards. In the validation process, the actual educators refused to sign it.

That’s progress?

This program was never tested or piloted, but it was presented as the cure for all ills. Forty-five states adopted it—Louisiana included—and federal bribes in the form of Race to the Top grants reinforced that adoption.

That’s progress?

Louisiana students will take PARCC-like questions in a few weeks. Other states like New York have been giving these tests for almost two years, and the results have been disheartening at best. They have produced increased anxiety in students, some to the point of crying, giving up, and even losing control of bladder and bowel functions.

That’s progress?

The authors of this editorial say that “PARCC fails to frighten us.” How brave of them; they’re not taking the test.

The authors say the test is “not intended to boost students’ self-esteem.” Really? What does a passing grade do, but bolster self-esteem, a vitally-crucial component to becoming a well-rounded contributor to society. New York presented some of the first PARCC tests, resulting in 70% of the students being labeled failures. The second year showed a slight increase with only 64% failing. I fail to see how labeling vast majorities of children as failures is somehow going to make them better human beings. These tests in their present form have incredible potential to crush an entire generation; that frightens me.

The authors claim the PARCC test will measure progress. Exactly how? Originally more than 20 states signed up to give these test, but that number has dwindled to ten, and Louisiana is NOT one of them. Mercedes Schneider has documented that Louisiana has NO CONTRACT with Pearson, the ONLY company giving the PARCC test. Data Recognition Corps is providing questions to Louisiana, not Pearson, so we can compare our students to what exactly?

That’s progress?

The authors contend that the governor’s bad behavior is creating anxiety among parents. The only bad behavior I’ve noticed is the authors’ blind acceptance of Common Core as some improvement for the educational system.

The authors state that the governor’s executive order was “nothing more than cheap grandstanding.” Standing up for our students or children is not cheap, and parents have the right to protect their children through an opt-out process. The authors denigrate these parents with the damning phrase “Are they teaching our children to quit?”

According to that train of thought, the Founding Fathers were merely trouble-makers who should have accepted British rule without question. Henry David Thoreau, author of Civil Disobedience, merely caused trouble for trouble’s sake, and Rosa Parks should have taken her seat in the back of the bus and shut up. Perhaps those individuals should just “buck up,” as the authors suggest safely from their anonymity.

Unlike these authors, I prefer to think of these parents as dealing with a difficult situation as best as they possibly can. I cannot walk in their shoes—I have no children of my own—but I will at least try to understand their issues and see their point of view, not dismiss them with arrogant words.

I have the courage of my convictions and am willing to put my name to my words. It’s a shame certain members of the editorial board lack that courage.

Vincent P. Barras

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1 Comment

Filed under Education

One response to “An Honest Editorial, or a Shiller for PARCC and Common Core?

  1. There are few profiles in courage nowadays. The teachers and board members who stood against the Cooper excesses were brave. Parents who stand for the strength of their convictions are equally laudable. Perhaps, at times, we forget that the system is there to serve and not to be served.

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