Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Common Core

Prepared remarks: To the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Dec. 17, 2014 from Neal Resnikoff from Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice. 

     There was a strict two-minute limit, and I was cut off a little more than halfway through. --Neal

     I want to address the issue of Common Core. This is a set of standards that is to be reflected in high stakes standardized tests and that will narrow the curriculum and education that our students get, unless it is beaten back. 
    Common Core is an attack on public education by corporations. You, like Governor Quinn, who signed onto it, did not take up your responsibility to organize  the necessary debate and discussion before imposing it without the knowledge or permission of parents, teachers, and other concerned people in the city.
     People have the right to decide what kind of  education our children should receive. You repeatedly violate that right:
     You have made devastating decisions, against strong community opposition, to recently close 49 more neighborhood schools, to install a military academy to replace a popular community school in Logan Square, and to increase the number of privately run charter schools-- which are taking money away from our neighborhood public schools.
     But now you have a chance to deal with the problem of Common Core and its unscientific  and oppressive standardized test known as PARCC,  to be administered in the spring.        
     Common Core is a program  initiated and funded by the biggest corporations in the U.S.  Some 25 years ago one of their main organizations,  the National  Business Roundtable,  made clear that they need students who will help them make more profits. They then worked hard to impose programs such as No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now Common Core.  The corporations want  students trained to  be obedient employees with a narrow outlook and set of skills,  or soldiers who follow orders for the wars launched for the corporations’ greater profits and power.  
     But these corporate goals are not what most parents or teachers want for their children.
     Those running Common Core have actually warned parents that up to 70% of children will fail Common Core tests such as PARCC.  This is a barbarity.  Failure can only discourage and humiliate children--especially poor and minority children. Teachers are forced to teach to these tests, and are terrorized because they and their schools will be evaluated based on invalid student scores.  
     Why are the federal and state governments so insistent on implementation of  these Common Core tests --which are designed and sold to school systems like ours by monopoly corporations such Pearson? 
     The Chicago Teachers Union is on record against Common Core, with a unanimous vote of their House of Delegates.  Many parents and other teachers have organized against Common Core here and in many other states, some school boards and school administrators.  Here in Chicago people are organizing to oppose and opt out of this year’s PARCC test.   
     How about representing the people and join in with those who are opposing the PARCC tests.  A school board that represents the people would support discussion by those who are bringing out the damage that Common Core will be doing. 
     This damage of Common Core includes the narrow standards that exclude truly critical thinking and consideration of history and social justice issues, that exclude creativity and art. Common Core ignores the developmental realities of children. The program violates the needs of special education students and English language learners. The Common Core program is providing sensitive private data on children and their parents to all sorts of  vendors and others.  
     I have a fact sheet on all this and would be happy to answer your questions.
     What do you think about what I’ve just said? 

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