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Did anyone read the New York Times article in the Sunday Review called, Who’s Minding the SchoolsReady or Not the Common Core is Here? I did, twice. The authors refer to the recent standardized testing going on in New York State, “These students, in grades 3 through 8, are taking part in what may be the most far-reaching experiment in American educational history.” That is bold, they go on to ask, if these soon to be national standards will produce more successful students or will our educational system undergo unplanned consequences. Personally, I have my doubts that the Common Core is going to be a quick fix for a very broken, antiquated, inequitable institution that our public schools represent today. How would I know? I’m in the trenches, and have been, for almost 30 years now.

Quite frankly, the schools have undergone little change from when I was a student. Yes, things change, all the time – but they are short-lived and usually don’t have too much of an impact. This is the second cycle of over testing that I have seen come and go and teachers knew then that testing little children with bubble sheets was wrong. Scores get skewed, kids get nervous, results are inaccurate, teachers are frustrated and where do these scores go, and why does it take so long to get them back. The data collected from these tests does nothing to help student achievement. We know our students, we know what they need and we know standardized testing is not in the equation. I love the reference to the Common Core as an invisible empire, and completely agree with Anthony Carnevale, the director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, as he refers to the Common Core as “one-size-fits-all pathway governed by abstract academic content.”

This NY Times letter to the editor, Invitation to a Dialogue: The Art of Teaching, by David Greene says it all. Seasoned professionals know what works: being creative, independent, spontaneous, practical and rule-bending. Often it is the least orthodox teacher who most engages and excites students. Scripts and rules and models strictly followed cannot replace what the best teachers have: practical wisdom. In our anti-teacher world and scripted teaching climate perpetuated by corporate reformers, what room is there for the teachers we want for our kids?

I’m not here to pontificate, just to concur with the Times opinion piece outlining the lack of planning by our government and how it may very well lead to deepening the social divide. I wholeheartedly agree with David Greene that not every college graduate is cut out to teach, and more importantly, we need to give teachers more opportunities to grow and develop with mentors. Visit the United Opt Out National  site to read Greene’s poem, WHY I AM COMING TO OCCUPY THE DEPT. OF ED. IN DC.

Diane Ravitch, speaks of the testing debacle as,”Testing in New York has turned into the Monster that Ate the Children.” In a recent article on Bill Moyers site entitled, “We Must Out-Educate and Out-Innovate Other Nations,” she succinctly states, “We want teachers to teach with creativity and passion… Too much testing crushes creativity and innovation, and that’s why we must stop it — now.”

Diane Ravitch posted Top 10 Reasons to Rally for Public Education in Albany, New York, on June 8th, written by the leader of the teachers’ union in the Averill Park school district in upstate New York on her blog back in May. This list says it all:

TOP TEN reasons to March on Albany in the Rally for Public Education:

10. You have realized public education is being hi-jacked by for profit organizations.
9. You are tired of reading about how ineffective you are at your own profession by people who know nothing about education.
8. You believe high stakes testing is out of control in NY.
7. You believe you have not had enough time to learn the Common Core yourself, let alone have your students tested on it!
6. You believe your students’ personal information, including their state assessment results and their IEPs and other personal data should be kept confidential.
5. You believe your effectiveness rating should be kept confidential, and don’t want a link on the district web page to this information or directions given to get this information.
4. You believe that NYS should report to the public the amount of tax payer money spent on developing, administering, grading and reviewing state assessments.
3. The word PEARSON makes your skin crawl.
2. You work in Averill Park (Insert your own school district.)and have lost about a quarter of your faculty due to unfair state budget cuts!
AND THE NUMBER ONE REASON…
1. You are a caring professional who wants the BEST public education for your own students, children, and grandchildren and you know this isn’t it!

Yes, we are caring professionals and we  are experiencing an all time low in our careers. We are forced to implement curriculum without representation. We are being told what to teach and how to teach it. But, there is hope. Maybe the Common Core will arouse enough controversy that parents and educators will join together like they did this past Saturday as they marched in Albany to protest the excessive testing. Watch Video from The Ed Show on msnbc

Maybe together we can put a moratorium on standardized testing! Maybe together we can speak loud enough and decide as a nation how our educational landscape and practices can be adapted to the 21st century.

 

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