The light has finally dawned as I try to fully understand what is so absurd and troubling about the imposition of a National set of Common Core Standards. When listening to the latest statements by parents, (those well-known subversive ‘special interest groups’), this time in Wappingers Falls,
I envision, instead of the imposition of untested and one-size-fits-all educational concepts, a set of religious tenets over which you have no control; upon which your children will be rigorously catechized, and upon which orthodoxy the careers of your schools’ teachers will stand or fall. If this isn't the Spanish Inquisition reincarnated, then what is? (Well, minus the boiling oil, of course...)
Other videos: http://pojonews.co/16PYpTQ
http://bit.ly/GSUfPP : Commissioner King in Poughkeepsie
And if my focus appears to be more on literacy, here is a Math related commentary from Carol Burris, the L.I. Principal who has spearheaded resistance to the implementation of the Common Core, published in the Washington Post by Valerie Straus.:
If you happen to attend a house of worship, think about how you chose it. First, which religion? Then, if you live in a pretty diverse place like New York, you may have visited quite a few choices – hmmm, too much singing or not enough; a bit too much Bible –thumping; lack of diversity in the congregation; use of a rigid Order of Service – or, the lack of one; Not the faith in which you were raised; An interpretation of the scriptures that you found unacceptable; so the list goes on. Eventually you found a spiritual community that matched your beliefs, and that is where you placed your trust. You don’t mind that others have a different set of beliefs; this one suits you! How long do you think you would have lasted in the late Middle Ages? You adhered to the beliefs that came down from the ruling elite, or risked your life. If that became impossible, you made your way to the American colonies because there at least you could practice your faith in peace! If that is where we came from, and in many ways why we exist as a nation, how on earth could it be that we are now constrained to accept a State imposed ‘religion’ with dire consequences attached to it? If the APPR isn't like a religious test of orthodoxy, then what is? If the Core Knowledge scripted curriculum (among others) isn't the liturgy of the new religion, then what is? No wonder both Right and Left leaning people actually agree on this!
Similarly, if you were fortunate enough to have several types of schools in your area to choose from, including private schools – didn't you do the same thing? You looked at the building, went to the website, attended open houses, read the literature, talked to other parents, got the scoop on whether the teachers were inspiring, encouraging, rigorous, and creative? Then you put in the applications and hoped to have a school experience for your child that matched your value system.
If this march towards homogeneity continues, those days are gone. There will be a state religion, everyone in the third month of 2nd grade will be learning about the Maya, no one will have time for music, gym or recess (Test prep for all!) and the chances of America retaining its extraordinary vitality and creativity will be gone in favor of long lines of drudge-like workers, tramping lockstep towards some anesthetized 'college and career readiness'.
It's a legitimate concern that having all those choices, and the ability to feel comfortable with the setting you choose, is NOT the experience of most parents. Then by all means let us strive to present all parents with more involvement, more rich experiences, an educational setting that brings light and joy and variety and success and a general increase of the scope of the universe into their lives. But you won’t do it by offering them a fiercely regimented curriculum that takes no account of their prior skills, developmental readiness, interests and opportunities. You won’t do it by making them more miserable, stressed and marginalized. There are thousands of practitioners who know how to invite, to inspire, to energize their students. (They are called teachers...) The schools have to become centers of self-fulfillment and discovery, not factories where 70 – 80% of the children are guaranteed to fail, by design. We don’t need any more hell-fire and damnation preachers/teachers/administrators whose mission is to frighten the poor and the ignorant into unquestioning obedience. We need a loving, caring religion/educational administration that values and supports every child where they are at, and enables them to move forward as dynamically and passionately as is humanly possible, whatever their interests and aptitudes.
So let us unite to reject the efforts to make everyone in the same corporate image, and return to a system which has as much variety and as much richness as life itself. Luckily, people are largely untouched by grand dreams of reform - whenever people say “Schools do this...” or “schools have been doing that…” I have to laugh. There are no two schools alike yet, and it isn't going to happen any time soon, Common Core, Danielson Framework, APPR and VAM etc notwithstanding. It’s just that the misery and the attrition and the pressure will be profoundly increased – and for what? A new State religion that is probably unconstitutional, and certainly misbegotten. Like the teachers in Mexico, we’ll be taking to the streets, if the amazing speeches of parents all around the state are anything to go by! (See videos)
Despite this condemnation, there will be teachers, schools and individuals who implement the CCSS effectively, but then consider the effort of re-educating the entire workforce. It would certainly help if the publisher's version of the standards were rejected in favor of a more accurate reading. But why would we even want to impose this single religion on ourselves?
There are many paths to enlightenment - and the Federal Government is probably not the one who should be directing the traffic!