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

Monday, December 30, 2013

To Common Core Enablers: The Friend of My Enemy Is My Enemy

Common Corers talk of the need for internationally-benchmarked standards and curriculum.  By this they pretend to mean relinquishing the wafer-thin, NCLB-inspired drive-by curriculums that demand that students ingest an endless stream of subject matter infobits that are later excreted or regurgitated on command, whereupon the remains are probed and dissected for signs of meaning among the digitized acres of psychometric scat.

Common Corers talk of learning that is deep rather than broad, thick rather than thin, learning that calls for less picking and more chewing. Unfortunately, that’s all it is—talk.  The Common Core offers none of that, for it was rushed into production so quickly by so few to serve a single purpose as the replacement mechanism for the NCLB public school destruction machine of the Bush Era.  

The Common Core exists as a control mechanism and high stakes testing delivery system that are to measure the failure of public schools in order that the corporatization and privatization by charters and vouchers may continue where NCLB left off.

Susan Ohanian has a must-read piece at her website, with clear evidence that nothing has changed with regards to the scripted, fill-in-the-blank nonsense that the AFT TURNcoats are collecting on "Share My Lessons" and distributing for David Coleman and Bill Gates.  Here is a small sample from Susan:

. . . . I studied a lot of the lessons linked to the intro material offered in the AFT resources below. I am struck by how teacher-directed it all is. The teacher asks all the questions. Most of the lower grade Albuquerque project videos seem to explain what they're going to do--not what they actually did, but in one middle grade lesson we get the full monty. A teacher explains that they just about finished a lesson plan for "Gift of the Magi" but when Diane August,a managing director at AIR and a consultant on the Albuquerque work, came in, the issue of Lexiles came up and the teacher explanation begins, "When we Lexiled the text. . . ." They found its number was too low for the 8th grade formula and so they substituted Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour."

Never mind that Prentice Hall puts the Chopin story in its 11th grade text. And Unit 1 of Prentice Hall Literature Common Core Edition Grade 9 includes "Gift of the Magi" in a unit on irony.

But there are rules to be followed and the AFT-funded team in Albuquerque seems wedded to Lexile scores--following the Common Core rule of "grade level" text.

I found some handouts for the Albuquerque treatment of Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour." The students are instructed to "Follow
along as the teacher reads this text out loud. Then work with a partner to answer the questions."

The very short text for which the students are to "follow along" has 8 declarative sentences. Here is the worksheet students are to fill out:

1. When was Kate Chopin born?
Kate Chopin was born in _____/

2. Why was Chopin depressed?
Chopin was depressed because her ____ and her ____were dead.

3. What did Chopin do to feel better?
Chopin started ____ to feel better.

4. When did Chopin start writing?
Chopin started writing in the ____.

*Bonus: How old was Chopin when she started writing?
Chopin was ___________years old when she started writing.

5. What does "feminist themes' mean?
Feminist themes means main ____that are in favor of ___ rights for ____.

6. Think about the role of women in the 19th century. Why was it important that Chopin's writing had feminist themes?
It was important that Chopin's writing had feminist themes because __________.

7. Chopin was the first American to write about what topic?
Chopin was one of the first American authors to write about the ____lives of __________________.

8. What is Kate Chopin best known for?
Kate Chopin is best known for being one of the first ______ to write ____depictions of women's ________and __________.

Next, students are given sheets with individual sentences from the story, each followed by a question. The teacher reads each sentence,and the students answer the question about that sentence. Here's a sample:

She did not stop to ask if it were or were not a monstrous joy that held her. A clear and exalted perception enabled her to dismiss the suggestions as trivial.

Question: She was feeling two opposite things. What were they?
She was feeling _____________ and _____________.
And on and on--through the whole story.

This leaves me gasping for air.

It also leaves me very very angry. . . .

The momentum is building against the Common Core testing delivery system, VAM, teacher evaluation based on test scores, and years of traitorous misleadership by Weingarten and Van Roekel. 

It has been a big year for books that tell the truth about corporate ed reform schooling, with Diane Ravitch’s book at the top of the heap.  Unfortunately, Reign of Error does not include a critique of the ruinous reign by either Weingarten or Van Roekel.

Having celebrated her well-earned accolades as The Nation’s “Most Important Progressive Book for 2013" and having picked out her placing in the museum between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, perhaps Ravitch will do what is desperately needed and finally deliver the hammer blow required to break the lock on the teacher union misleadership under Weingarten and Van Roekel.  When is enough, enough?

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