"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 30, 2012

Instead of worrying about applying the standards, we should be resisting them. To do this, we have to work together.

The Common Core Standards is a tsunami that will destroy all of us unless it is stopped. It is going to cost billions, bleeding money from where it is badly needed and it will soon impose what can only be described as an astonishing amount of testing. All this is happening under false pretenses. There is no evidence that our schools require these harsh measures, and plenty of evidence that they will not improve student achievement. There is plenty of evidence that the Common Core will further enrich the .01%, those whose only concern is profit:

Let me repeat: This will destroy all of us.

Professional groups, with the exception of NABE, have not opposed the standards. They have only been concerned about making sure their group is included, and that the standards and tests are right for their students. School librarians want to make sure the standards include information skills. Bilingual educators want to be sure that tests will be administered in the students’ first language. ESL specialists want to be sure that the standards and tests are sensitive to the needs of the English learner, etc etc.

All of these kinds of objections assume that the Common Core is a good idea. It isn’t. Instead of worrying about applying the standards, we should be resisting them. To do this, we have to work together.

The Common Core train has left the station, but it hasn’t arrived at its destination.

Colleagues, please please please inform yourselves. The case against the standards is overwhelming and backed up by a great deal of evidence. It has been presented by well-respected and honored members of the profession. The leaders of the standards movement have simply ignored this counterevidence, but I hope you won’t.

If you do nothing else, get on Susan Ohanian’s mailing list.: susanohanian.org Ohanian’s blog is the center of gravity of the resistance.

Read Diane Ravtich’s blog (dianeravtich.net).

Read David Berliner’s analyses. Start with http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/23/your-homework-berliner-on-education-and-inequality/

Follow Alfie Kohn on twitter and check out his website: alfiekohn.org

Follow Paul Thomas on twitter.

Follow Sudan Dufresne1 (@GetUpStandUP2) on twitter. She retweets nearly all tweets of interest and helps you get to the central issues quickly.

Here are my recent efforts:

The New York Times Sunday dialog: http://www.susanohanian.org/core.php?id=305
I presented the arguments against the common core in a letter, critics and supporters responded, and then I responded.

How much testing?
Posted on Diane Ravitch’s blog: http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/25/stephen-krashen-how-much-testing/ AND
Posted on The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post blog: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/
I presented evidence that we soon will have more testing than ever seen on planet Earth.

And an older attempt:
The National Standards Discussion: A Weapon of Mass Distraction. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/08/national-standards-discussion-weapon-of.html
We are invited to comment on the details of the standards but not whether we need standards in the first place. Some excerpts from my short paper:
Those who accept the invitation to discuss the content of the standards will have the impression they have a seat at the table. In reality, invitations to discuss the standards are a means of control, diverting attention from the real issues.
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum … That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate" (N. Chomsky, The Common Good, p. 42, 2002).

The Common Core: The wants of the selfish few are outweighing the needs, desires, hopes, dreams and even the lives of the many. (modified from Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan, and Robert J. Sawyer 2012. Triggers, p 285 Ace: New York).

1 comment:

  1. Desperate Teacher in Florida11:32 AM

    Dr. Krashen I am doing everything I can as well but the obstacles in the way are formidable.

    If I speak up in the context of my job I will be summarily fired. There are no contract or union protections in my right-to-work state. We are all at-will employees now since our state legislature ended tenure last year.

    I live from paycheck to paycheck due to consistently low salary paid here in my Southern state. That puts me in a very difficult situation; we already have an unemployment rate over 21% in my area. Finding another job would be very, very difficult at my age. aI would most likely end up homeless since I do not own a home. I have no safety net.

    I've already been labeled a troublemaker for speaking out and questioning and now I have been blackballed/excluded from school and district committees I once chaired and received awards for. This lesson has not been lost on my colleagues. They remain silent and keep their heads down and avoid saying or doing anything that might bring the same to them.

    Former supporters in district administration have seen the light after a district-wide purge of principals and administrators who stood with teachers and students against the most egregious reforms over the last 2 years. The former supporters are now believers who say or do nothing critical. Their jobs depend upon their support.

    The state and district have sown conflict between teachers and parents for years and a spate of laws has given parents little reason to seek alliance with their children's teachers.

    Although we attempt repeatedly to work with them few parents trust us any more. Many parents are suspicious of us and our motives due to all the negative reporting, ugly district commentary during unsuccessful contract negotiations, and constant teacher bashing by the local and national media.

    Almost any time there is a problem or a need to work together to support a child parents now choose to complain about the school/principal/teacher directly to the superintendent, file a lawsuit, or simply move their child a more compliant school or a charter. Still, we reach out and do our best to work together.

    Teachers are in real and palpable fear for their very careers let alone their daily jobs. They have families to support, underwater mortgages to pay, debts from crappy insurance, student loans, and a very low self-image.

    The CCSS are being accepted because they are simply a new configuration of a standards/testing regime that we have been working under for the past decade. We already have multiple tests in every grade level.

    Since the passage of NCLB my district has instituted beginning of the year tests, monthly progress testing, 3 times a year benchmark testing in reading and math, 3 times a year reading diagnostic assessments, weekly or bi-weekly RTI assessments in all indicated subject areas, end-of-year assessments in math and reading, not to mention classroom assessments for grades since we do not get results back on all the other tests in a timely manner and are forbidden to use the results for grading anyway, etc. etc. And I teach primary grades!

    I counted the number of assessments last year on our assessment calendar and there were 147 days of scheduled testing (for all grades, across the year and not all tests are taken by all students, of course) out of our 180 day school year. Your warning about unprecedented testing is not alarming to the many teachers under the testing/standards fetish of the last decade.

    I wanted to speak out about one possible cause for the lack of resistance. The reformers have already succeeded in making resistance so costly that many, if not most, are too afraid and too desperate to make waves at this point. As you know we also have little encouragement or leadership from our national professional organizations and unions.

    Keep fighting the good fight! We are with you even when we must work underground and silently. There are many who are in the same boat as I am and we watch and we listen and do what we can.