Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Common Core Fight

How to Fight Common Core? 
By Jim Vail

I have raised concerns on this news blog about the Chicago Teachers Union upholding its resolution to fight the Common Core corporate agenda tied to excessive testing.

I like to criticize the union when it does not uphold what it promises its members. It's what the media is supposed to do - hold those in power accountable.

But it is also imperative as a teacher and a delegate to the union, to be involved in the fight to protect our jobs and public education and offer solutions.

So there is opportunity for myself and other teachers to get involved in the fight to stop Common Core.

But the question was asked, what do the teachers think about the Common Core.

I can say that many at my school and I'm sure throughout the system are overwhelmed with the attacks hitting us from all corners. We have the onerous Reach evaluations, the constant monitoring, the network demands, not to mention having to teach the children, many of whom have their own problems and special needs.

So the Common Core - devised by the corporate people out to destroy the public school system as we know it - was slapped on our desks with a set of standards tied to "rigor."

We are told we need to focus on "complex texts," implement rigorous instruction, use higher-order questioning that is focused on the text, not the children's outside experiences. The writing is no longer about personal experiences, but using sources to support your thesis.

Text evidence!  Right teachers?

Well, who can argue with tougher standards. Who can disagree that we shouldn't have high expectations for the children. 

But once the mist of it all clears away, we see the true intentions of the architects of this new set of standards.

First and foremost, most students will fail the new Common Core tests. Only about 30 percent will pass the new tests. It happened in New York, and so the governor there who as a faithful democrat supports the CC, called for a 5 year moratorium on the grueling tests due to parent outrage. 

This perhaps led to the election of Bill De Blasio who campaigned against charters schools and other parts of the education reform platform. Well, look what's happening to him now? When the armed forces of the city turn their backs on their chief in public, you got problems. 

The CC outrage hasn't happened yet in Illinois. It will with the PARCC test set to hit our schools soon.

Educating our English Language Learners and Special Education children has never been easy. It took fights in the courts to help these students. The PARCC and Common Core have no need for them as their assessment will throw them to the wolves.

Not to mention that Common Core is collecting lots of personal information on the students and diverts precious dwindling resources in the classroom to software companies to implement the computer tests, while many urban students have little access to such technology during the school year.

In other words, it's a trap. This whole new set of standards is set up to prove public education is bunk.

And of course our sleek oil salesmen have their remedies immediately available: charter schools, private operators of schools, online education and more technology to replace these dinosaurs.

So we need to educate our teachers and others fooled by the lack of CC analysis in our corporate media. 

But next spring may see an army of faculty ready to fight this onerous assault on our public schools and public school students.

It is the crisis that makes us all see clearly what it is we are facing and that we need to fight it! 

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