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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Diane Ravitch's Mutating Common Core Positions

As the opposition to Common Core has spread and deepened, Diane Ravitch's position has undergone a strange metamorphosis.  She had this to say at Huffington Post on March 24 in a piece entitled "The Fatal Flaw of the Common Core Standards:"

. . . .The complaints are coming from all sides: from Tea Party activists who worry about a federal takeover of education and from educators, parents, and progressives who believe that the Common Core will standardize instruction and eliminate creativity in their classrooms.

But there is a more compelling reason to object to the Common Core standards.

They were written in a manner that violates the nationally and international recognized process for writing standards. The process by which they were created was so fundamentally flawed that these "standards" should have no legitimacy.

Setting national academic standards is not something done in stealth by a small group of people, funded by one source, and imposed by the lure of a federal grant in a time of austerity. . . . .

By late May of 2014, Ravitch was not nearly so concerned about the lack of due process, lack of consensus, and the right to appeal that fatally flawed the Common Core in March.  In May, Ravitch says that if states want to use the Common Core, then they should go right ahead and do so. After all, "you shouldn't let your judgment be clouded by people who make hysterical claims about the standards or those who wrote them."  One may wonder if the Diane of March 2014 is implicated as a source of those "hysterical claims."

With Diane's permission for states to use them, Ravitch offers no advice for the hundreds of thousands of teachers who don't want to use Common Core or the millions of parents who don't want their children force fed the same technocratic utilitarian common denominator info bits across the entire nation. 

What are we do as Diane's views evolve?

Is Ravitch's "critique of Common Core just too sophisticated" for us to get our heads around because of its nuanced perspective, or is her movement toward a c'est la vie attitude toward CC just a sad example of ideological drift toward the AFT and NEA misleadership position of full-on support for the Gates agenda?

Meanwhile, Diane most recently at HuffPo has called for a Congressional investigation of Bill Gates, no less.  No doubt this will follow on the heels of the Congressional investigation of testing that she called for earlier this year.  Is this a bone thrown to the poor saps who still believe that Save Our Schools is a legitimate anti-CorpEd organization?

Here is a clip from the May Ravitch position:

. . . .The Common Core is not wicked, evil, or dangerous, nor are those who wrote it.

Perhaps my critique of Common Core is too sophisticated for those who want simplistic answers. I don't condemn those who want to use Common Core. I don't they are wrong or un-American. If they like it, they should use it.

My advice to states that want to use it, who think it is better than what they do now, is this:

1. Convene your best classroom teachers and review CCSS. Fix whatever needs fixing. Recognize that not all students learn at the same pace. Leave time for play in K-3.

2. Do not use the federally funded tests. Do not spend billions on hardware and software for testing. Let teachers write their own tests. Use standardized tests sparingly, like a state-level NAEP, to establish trends, not to label or rank children and teachers.

3. Do not use results of CC to produce ratings to "measure" teacher quality. Study after study, report after report warns that this is a very bad idea that will harm the quality of education by focusing too much on standardized tests, narrowing the curriculum, and forcing teachers to teach to the tests.

4. Do not let your judgment be clouded by people who make hysterical claims about the standards or those who wrote them. . . .


Notice here that Ravitch pretends that there is some autonomy for the 42 states that are signed on CC.  As long as there is a Common Core that your state has adopted, there are no state options to alter, fix, change, or to "use it" as a state might see fit.  Such latitude in curriculum, instruction, and assessment is available only to states that have said "no" to the Common Core testing delivery system that is being choked down the throat of the nation.  To suggest that states that have adopted the Common Core have such options to customize how they use CC is pure sophistry.

5 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:30 PM

    As a teacher, I can customize nothing in the standards. I am faced with the challenge of trying to squeeze what I am teaching into a relevant standard. Most of the time, it is a bit of a stretch. I am guessing that my administrator spends little time reading my lesson plans.

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  2. The article quotes Diane Ravitch as saying:
    1. Convene your best classroom teachers and review CCSS. Fix whatever needs fixing. Recognize that not all students learn at the same pace. Leave time for play in K-3.
    Is she posing an ‘erosion’ alternative to CC rather than an outright repeal under the assumption that ensuing federal Administrations will be less likely to monitor whether all the state’s districts are complying 100%? Maybe she thinks many have already or are thinking about modifying how lesson plans are tied to the standards, figuring they won’t get caught. But the real catch is tie to the tests. How is a teacher going to explain the effect that subtle differences will have on selecting the correct answer for hundreds of questions, which they will have no opportunity to change? So, you have to get rid of the tests first, which she states in her next point.

    2. Do not use the federally funded tests. Do not spend billions on hardware and software for testing. Let teachers write their own tests. Use standardized tests sparingly, like a state-level NAEP, to establish trends, not to label or rank children and teachers.
    OK, she goes for refusing the tests here which implies that the state in question would have to opt out of their agreement. So, what is the sense of point (1)? Is she echoing what I have seen a few state Administrations say and that is ‘we will use those standards that we agree with but will reserve the right to get rid of the ‘few’ that we don’t like’?

    3. Do not use results of CC to produce ratings to “measure” teacher quality. Study after study, report after report warns that this is a very bad idea that will harm the quality of education by focusing too much on standardized tests, narrowing the curriculum, and forcing teachers to teach to the tests.
    When she says “Do not use results of CC”, when she should have said ‘tests’, is she just being careless with her words?
    4. Do not let your judgment be clouded by people who make hysterical claims about the standards or those who wrote them. . . .
    I don’t know what she means here, unless she just felt like she had make people feel like there is no need to panic because all this will be negotiable after we get a new administration.
    I totally agree with the articles concluding statement and can see no reason for her to say all that unless she was just throwing out some possible bones to those whom she thinks might be ripe for coming up with some compromise plan for how all this is supposed to go down in the future.

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    1. Perhaps Diane's position is not "too sophisticated" to appreciate but, rather, just too muddy to see through. I don't think any of us can afford for anti-CorpEd's matriarch-of-record to figure out how to make the Weingarten position palatable to those who prefer public schools over corporate ones.

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  3. "One may wonder if the Diane of March 2014 is implicated as a source of those 'hysterical claims.'" No, one doesn't wonder this if one reads the source of the words. What you're failing to note here is that these "evolving positions" are in direct response to the release of Glenn Beck's book about the Common Core, which contains an unhinged critique of the CCSS. Ravitch claims that those who say CCSS for instance "makes children gay" is perhaps going too far. To my mind such hysteria makes it difficult to mount a real critique of the Common Core mess. You may see Ravitch as wildly swinging around and "evolving" in her opinions. I see her words as context dependent, and for you to present them sans context is extremely misleading.

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    1. I'm sorry but I don't see how Glenn Beck's position is relevant to how Diane Ravitch views the Common Core. If the Core was rotten before Glenn Beck, or "fatally flawed," how do Glenn Beck's rants and thought disorders change that rottenness? And yet the May version of Ravitch's assessment of Common Core are very different than March.

      Weingarten used the Tea Party nuts as a foil, too, just a few days after Diane's May HuffPo piece, in order to make her support of Common Core appear as the sane alternative to rightwing nut jobs. For all of Diane's insistence that the AFT misleader is moving away from CorpEd, it seems to me that Ravitch is the one who is being moved.

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