Flabby to the ‘Core’ > Kennewick School District Citizens

2 Apr

I have been concerned about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) since the idea was announced.  The “State” in State Standards is a ruse.  These are national standards developed by some “blue ribbon” panel of experts (No teachers were included) in some far off, unnamed office.  Pearson, the testing giant, was involved of course.  Then every state was coerced into adopting the standards by withholding Federal funds for non-compliance.  A few states resisted, but Washington was not one of them.

In addition to my mistrust of standards developed by someone far away from my town and grandchildren, the “standards” approach to education has not worked after more than 10 years of trying.  In Washington it is more like 15 years.  National Assessment test scores have remained flat for the entire time and the achievement gap, which was closing during the 1990′s has been stuck at its early 2000 level ever since.  Let’s face it folks, standards and high-stakes testing do not work and have sucked billions of dollars out of instruction and moved it into the pockets of the big test companies.

And now CCSS has arrived and is being implemented.  Guess what?  Pearson and other test publishers are now in the curriculum business and have developed “certified” curriculum which will need to be purchased by every school in the nation in order to teach to the new standards.  And it is great stuff, folks.  Here is a Boston Herald editorial on the topic:

Flabby to the ‘Core’

By Boston Herald Editorial Staff | Saturday, March 31, 2012 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Editorials

 It’s hard to imagine that the substance of the “Common Core” multistate curriculum project could actually be harmful. But silly us, we were dead wrong. As it turns out a damaging, limited teaching philosophy rules the day.

 Evidence of that was provided by The Washington Post “Answer Sheet” blog of Valerie Strauss, who printed a letter from Jeremiah Chaffee, a 13-year veteran English teacher in an unidentified high school in upstate New York.

 Chaffee and his colleagues were given a sample lesson on the Gettysburg Address supposedly showing how the Common Core works.

Teachers were told to “avoid giving any background context” because the Common Core strategy of so-called close reading “forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge and levels the playing field for all.”

 This is truly stupid. Some students likely will have some knowledge of Abraham Lincoln — perhaps picked up from TV — and cannot be prevented from using it, Chaffee noted.

 Students were not supposed to be asked if they had ever been to a funeral because that gets at “individual experience and opinion” and does not “move students closer to understanding” the address. The address is the greatest funeral oration of the modern age; to ban funerals from discussion is boneheaded.

 The example forbids asking questions about the causes of the Civil War because they “go outside the text.” The example, said Chafee, thinks the address is “about equality and self-government, and not about picking sides.”

 Picking sides — supporting a cause — is exactly what the address is about. Lincoln said it: That those listening “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain” for the Union. To teach otherwise is grave malpractice, and the Common Core is guilty. Massachusetts should get out while the getting is good.

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