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

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Art of Removing the Rotten Core

Coming on the heels of the rapacious profiteering and privatizing scheme of NCLB, and designed in the dark by a tiny team of technocrats led by the prissy Platonist, David Coleman, the Common Core was doomed from the start.

Designed, without doubt, to be the testing delivery system to guarantee another generation of harder tests and more school meltdowns and subsequent takeovers, the arrogant education antiquarians in charge of CorpEd's strategies seriously under-estimated the wrath and power of parents, teachers, students, and the man on the street.  The fight, for sure, is not over, but the bruising and withering criticism of CorpEd's Core scheme appears to be cresting into a massive wave, and the landfall of the tsunami appears to be only a matter of time.  The think-tank propagandists, the hedge fund scum, the technocratic twits, and the plutocratic bosses can only watch from their penthouse of cards on the beach.

Had it not been for the support of a black president for this just-awful idea of curriculum concretization designed to benefit no one except the billionaires and their hangers-on of the ed industry, this Business Roundtable bullying blitzkrieg might have worked, and the new test delivery vehicles might have been idling in front of every school in America this morning.

But with the "socialisit-in-chief" supporting it, those financially-suffering souls of the hinterlands,  now motivated as they are by Fox News hate speech to exploit their only remaining advantage of whiteness, rose up against it en masse, along with all the progressives who knew that the Core was rotten from the beginning and nothing more than another trillion dollar scheme inspired by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce to complete the job that NCLB had begun.

Part of the story of the coming wave and Gates' seawall of cash from Politico:

. . . . The debate over the standards has roiled political campaigns and dominated education policy debates for more than a year. Now it’s rocketing into pop culture — and opponents hope that will prove a tipping point.

The latest flash point came this week, when Louis C.K. tweeted to his 3.3 million followers: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!” He followed that with several pictures of third-grade math problems he deemed incomprehensible or just plain dumb. Within a day, his original protest had been retweeted more than 7,000 times.

The tweets point to a serious liability for the Common Core. Proponents desperately want to focus attention on the goal of raising academic standards and preparing American students to compete in a global economy. But parents want to talk about their children sobbing over nonsensical homework and vomiting from test-day jitters — and those are the stories that resonate, especially on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert picked up on all that social media angst and amplified it with a segment a few weeks ago that ridiculed befuddling math questions. Judy Blume, Maya Angelou and Matt Damon have also weighed in with critiques on standardized testing.

The populist attack on Common Core isn’t always fair: Some of the most widely mocked examples of so-called Common Core math were featured in textbooks and used in classrooms long before the standards were introduced. The blame for some of the confusing assignments rests on individual teachers, not the standards, which lay out what children should learn in each grade but don’t presume to dictate lesson plans or homework. And high-stakes testing was introduced long before the Common Core — and is stressful for some kids regardless of what the exams cover.

Opposition activist Jim Stergios says he would prefer to focus on more sober-minded critiques of the “mediocre quality, dubious legality and outsized costs” of the Common Core. But he can’t say he’s displeased that complaints about the standards have become a pop-culture meme.
“You know that discomfort and even outright opposition has reached a critical mass when the core becomes a frequent punch line in the repertoire of late-night comedians,” said Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank.
And supporters acknowledge, with considerable frustration, that the campaign is taking a toll.

. . . .

They were introduced with great fanfare as the next generation of standardized tests. They require students to write more, to analyze complex texts and, in some cases, to perform hands-on experiments in the classroom. Backers hoped parents would embrace them as far more challenging and meaningful than the traditional fill-in-the-bubble multiple choice.

But because of all those new components, the exams are longer than many states’ former assessments. They’re taken on computers, which this spring have proved vulnerable to crashes, server outages and even cyberterrorism.

Common Core exams are graded on a far tougher curve, leading to huge failure rates in states that adopted them last year. And to top it all off, the recent tests given to students in New York featured questions studded with brand names like Nike and iPod, raising concerns about commercialization.

Any parents who saw benefits in the new exams were swiftly drowned out by the chorus of protests on social media.

By the tens of thousands, parents have refused to let their children take the tests. They have taken to social media to explain why. And their fury has seeped into pop culture.
Colbert aired a series of clips of parents explaining how the tests had rattled and stressed their children. His wry conclusion: “Common Core testing is preparing students for what they’ll face as adults – pointless stress and confusion.”

The stress of standardized testing also caught the attention of more than 120 authors and illustrators of children’s literature, who last fall issued a public letter to President Barack Obama expressing alarm at the administration’s education reform agenda. “Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations,” they wrote.

Among the signatories: beloved and widely respected authors such as Angelou, Blume and Jules Feiffer.

Actor Damon has taken on the anti-testing crusade, too. Common Core foes have hailed his 2011 speech to a pro-public-school rally, in which he called for teachers to have more autonomy to run their classrooms as they see fit. To rousing cheers, Damon listed the qualities that he said had fueled his success and brought him the most joy in life: imagination, curiosity, a passion for writing, a love of learning. “None of these qualities,” he said, “can be tested.”

Hollywood elites aren’t always welcome in grass-roots campaigns, but many Common Core opponents have rushed to embrace Damon, Colbert and especially Louis C.K., citing their involvement as proof that concerns about the new standards are resonating far beyond the tea party groups that have been among the reform effort’s most aggressive and visible foes.

It’s one thing to have Norris assert that the standards are being used by “the feds … to usurp power over public schools and influence young American minds.” Or for Glenn Beck to label the Common Core an “insidious menace” that opened the door to “leftist indoctrination.”

It’s another thing entirely to have a popular comedian — a comedian who once, in all sincerity, declared Obama his personal hero — tell the world the Common Core is making his children cry.

. . . .

So far, the opposition hasn’t overturned the Common Core in any state other than Indiana. But at least 11 states have backed out of commitments to use shared Common Core assessments. And the movement to scrap the standards altogether remains very much alive in several states, including South Carolina, Missouri and Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal recently recanted his previous support and urged the Legislature to reject the Common Core.

Common Core proponents have plenty of money to fight back. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent nearly $200 million so far to develop and promote the standards, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have poured in resources, as well. They have the support of the Obama administration and the national teachers unions, which have raised concerns about how the standards are implemented in practice but continue to support them in principle. . . .

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