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I don’t understand, if most of us agree that CCSS, APPR, MODULES, and STANDARDIZED TESTING are all having a negative effect on our children, WHY do we proceed? If we know we are turning kids off to learning, stifling creativity, and depriving them from authentic teaching, WHY do we continue these practices? Why haven’t the teachers, administration, and parents joined together and overthrown this? We need to jointly obliterate the Common Core. Two days ago the Washington Post ran this article entitled: Some states rebrand controversial Common Core education standards

In the face of growing opposition to the Common Core State Standards — a set of K-12 educational guidelines adopted by most of the country — officials in a handful of states are worried that the brand is already tainted. They’re keeping the standards, but slapping on fresh names they hope will have greater public appeal.

At a recent meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers, one of the organizations that helped create the standards, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) urged state education leaders to ditch the “Common Core” name, noting that it had become “toxic.”

“Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat,” said Huckabee, now the host of a Fox News talk show and a supporter of the standards.

The changes are largely superficial, giving new labels to national standards that are taking hold in classrooms across the country. But the desire to market them differently shows how precarious the push for the Common Core has grown. The standards were established by state officials with bipartisan support and quickly earned widespread approval, including the endorsement of the Obama administration.

Supporters say the standards emphasize critical thinking and analytical skills, as opposed to rote learning, and will enable American students to better compete in the global marketplace.

But the wholesale changes in K-12 education that came with the standards have provoked a raft of critics. Opponents include tea party activists, who say the Common Core standards amount to a federal takeover of local education, and progressives, who bristle at the emphasis on testing and the role of the Gates Foundation, which has funded the development and promotion of the standards. Some academics say the math and reading standards are too weak; others say they are too demanding, particularly for young students.

Across the country, teachers are struggling to revamp their lessons; states are hastily working to adopt standardized tests tailored to the Common Core; and parents are left to wonder about all the changes taking place in the classroom.

READ the rest of this article by Lyndsey Layton: Some states rebrand controversial Common Core education standards, by the The Washington Post 

Please, be ready to defend what our children deserve. In an earlier blog Emotions High At Common Core Forums, I wrote, “Reaction to the new Common Core curriculum throughout the country is overwhelmingly negative”. Why then, did so many visionaries see education being delivered in a more cohesive approach, not the one size fits all kind of mentality, but rather progressive in nature? This quote by Harland Cleveland says it all, he surely was ahead of his time, “It is a well-known scandal that our whole educational system is geared more to categorizing and analyzing patches of knowledge than to threading them together.”  Amen

Children need to come first, this list of priorities for a better educational system is from James Boutin’s blog An Urban Teacher’s Education, it is a down to earth synopsis of what we should be going on in schools.

1) We would allocate far fewer days to testing and test preparation
Many of my students experience severe anxiety about tests, and some even skip school when they know a test is coming. There is much to be said for learning to take tests and their role in society, but we’ve overdone it by a long shot. The emphasis we place on tests encourage deficit thinking and lead to hours upon hours spent thinking about how to make up for student shortcomings.

Focusing on students’ strengths would not only create a healthier learning environment, it would give us the leverage we need to think about how we might best remedy some of their weaknesses.

2) We would spend our staff meeting time and professional collaboration time thinking about students

In my estimation, millions of meetings in public schools go nearly to waste every week because staff are directed to poor over data the district office is held accountable for by the state and federal government. Without training on how to interpret that data or draw inferences about how to act in service of changing it (much more on that here and here), school staffs leave these meetings with little more than a headache and complaints about how they could have used that time grading.

Part of the problem here is the type of data staff are being asked to analyze. Of far better use would be student work. There no data I can think of that better helps me plan effective lessons.

3) We would spend more time creating fascinating and relevant project-based curriculum

Students in too many schools are receiving the type of drill and kill instruction geared toward preparing students for the tests that make or break the careers of the adults in the system. Too often, the charge is made that teachers who eschew standards-based, test-centered instruction are not doing what’s best for students. I find this ironic since standards-based instruction is mostly intended to improve the few drops of data that force repercussions for adults. (Read more here on my thoughts about standards-based instruction.)

No – there are plenty of excellent strategies available for helping students meet standards. What I currently see lacking at my school, and many schools like mine, is a severe lack of motivation/interest on behalf of students.

Contrary to popular belief, students do not dislike learning. In fact, like all humans, they enjoy it tremendously – when the learning is right for them.

If we were to put students first, we would ask students to join us in developing cross-curricular units that seamlessly integrate desired standards in pursuit of solving a community-based problem or presenting a meaningful project. This could be anything and everything from helping our students advocate to the school board their right to use electronics in class to analyzing the harmful effects of popular music videos on teenage body image. Whatever it is, it has to matter to students and value their prior knowledge.

4) We would spend more time building relationships between all members of our community

Unfortunately, many of the staff at our school were raised in vastly different environments than our students. We may know what our students allow us to see of them in a school setting, but there are undoubtedly many more layers to each of their unique personalities.

People who go to work where they feel like they know the people they spend time with well enough to speak honestly and openly with them enjoy what they do. This leads to a healthier environment for all involved.

5) We would make small class sizes a priority for all students, regardless of whether they’re in a class that requires a high-stakes test at its end or not

Class size is often poorly understood because changes in class size don’t affect all classrooms in all schools the same way.

Students from safe environments who know how to learn, are motivated to learn, and already have background knowledge in the subject at hand are significantly more manageable in class. But even when you have all of those factors working in your favor, an increase in class size still portends a massive increase in work when it comes to parent communication, assessment, and tutoring – all tasks that fall outside of the school day, and therefore often slip the minds of those in this “debate” who don’t work in schools.

For teachers who work in schools that serve less privileged communities, increases in class size carry an even heavier burden. It means that you have to be extraordinarily skilled at classroom management, willing to devote tremendous effort planning detailed lessons, and have the competencies and social-emotional characteristics that allow underprivileged students to trust you and learn from you.

Ultimately, smaller class sizes mean better educational experiences for all students – and that is particularly true for the students least well served by our system.

6. We would be mindful of how changes affect different students differently

Solutions being posed by many of our district leaders center around offering students more choice in the classes they take, including increasing the rigor (terrible, terrible word to use to describe what goes on the classroom – can we please just say challenging) of classes.

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