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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Opposition the Common Core is More than Opposition to Testing

"Promoters of Common Core say that it is designed to make America’s children 'college and career ready.'  We instead judge Common Core to be a recipe for standardized workforce preparation." --132 Catholic Professors
With the Chicago Teachers Union now officially in opposition to Common Core, Randi Weingarten is in a big PR push to do what she can to save the CC for her plutocratic power base responsible for commissioning this awful version of national standards from the corporatocracy's curriculum expert and once-part-time tutor, David Coleman.  

Linda Darling-Hammond has now joined Weingarten in pretending that the primary reason for opposing Common Core has everything to do with high-stakes testing.  Here is the beginning of a recent piece in Huffington Post:

Voices across the country are raising concerns about the new Common Core State [sic] Standards. But if you listen carefully to the conversations, the main concern is not about the standards, themselves, but about the consequences of high-stakes tests attached to the standards.
Now certainly high-stakes testing is a primary concern of anyone wishing to preserve public schools, student diversity, inclusive classrooms, and humane school learning practices, for we know that without the eradication of HST, none of these things is possible. 

But the opposition to Common Core is not limited to opposition to a high-stakes testing. If by some miracle high-stakes testing disappeared tomorrow, opposition to common core would continue, some for ludicrous reasons, i. e., CC will make your children gay, and many for excellent reasons that focus on curriculum quality, age appropriateness, college readiness, intellectual and moral development, and the long-standing values of civilization.

Dr. Carolyn Wallace, for instance, calls our attention to several glaring reasons to oppose CC that has nothing to do with tests: science teachers were not involved in the decision to use standards to improve the learning of science, and the standards were produced by non-teachers.  Dr. Wallace has noted, too, that CC creates barriers to quality science education that would continue to exist even if high stakes testing disappeared:

1) The tightly specified nature of successful learning performances precludes classroom teachers from modifying the standards to fit the needs of their students.

2) The standards are removed from the thinking and reasoning processes needed to meet them.

Numerous scholars and educators have noted, too, that the research does not support CC Standards as a viable way to improve raise student achievement.  The Brown Center in 2012 concluded that the rigor of state standards is not related to NAEP scores.  

More recently, the Brown Center and Brookings issued another report that found that  “states with standards most different from the CCSS . . . gained the most on NAEP" (p. 29).  Offering this dismal assessment of prospects for states adopting Common Core, the Brookings research estimates

it will take 24 years for a noticeable improvement to unfold. And that improvement would add up to 7.62 NAEP scale score points, a gain in 24 years that falls far short of the 22 point gain that NAEP registered in its first 23 years [without Common Core] (p. 32).
And then there is the issues around preserving diversity of thought and freedom to decide what our children learn and what values will best sustain our civilization--if that is possible.  These most important questions have never been put on the table by the corporationists who are now wringing their hands as their ill-fated attempted takeover of schools begins to melt away under closer inspection by scholars and the public.  

If there are ever to be national learning standards that are consistent with our democratic principles, the effort now underway by the oligarchs must be discarded. 

Any new effort must begin with a thorough and open and research-based dialogue about whether national standards are needed or desired.  That has never occurred, and until it does, any attempt at imposing a more draconian version of social engineering posing as equal educational opportunity is doomed to fail.  

The sooner Randi Weingarten and her patrons realize this, the sooner we can move toward begin working in concert to design schools aimed to preserve sustainability and create a planet that is livable and fair for all, rather than to perpetuate a cancerous inequality that promises nothing but political and environmental catastrophe.

For a complete library of reasons to reject Common Core, go to Susan Ohanian's site here.  

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