Recently a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to a political radio program in which the reporter was revealing the “danger” of Common Core. Having implemented the Common Cores standards in my classroom this past year, I was intrigued by the comments below her video link. Moms were asking how to monitor their children’s exposure to Common Core standards in the classroom. I was curious, whatever do they mean? My curriculum was explicitly aligned to Common Core standards, and I felt no moral qualms over my pedagogical decisions. So I watched the link. Here are the key quotes I listed from this radio program:
- “Common Core is dumbing down America’s students.”
- “Common Core encourages Communism.”
- “Common Core’s New Math lessons are awful.”
- “Elementary Literacy Curriculum is 70% Classics and 30% Manuals.”
- “Common Core is making our kids into slaves.”
Upon hearing this, I was definitely torn between 3 responses: throw up, laugh hysterically, or have a heart attack. I replied to this post, providing my feedback as a seasoned teacher. But what would I know? The media must be the expert in education.
While visiting with friends at a dinner party a few weeks ago, the Sandy Hook school massacre was brought up. People were passionately debating the issue of arming teachers in the classroom. They discussed how legislation was introduced in about two dozen states, allowing school personnel to carry guns. South Dakota has become the first state in the nation to ratify a law allowing school employees to carry guns on the job. A few people asked my opinion about having a gun in my classroom. I answered with, “As a first grade teacher who sits on the floor a lot, I would be concerned with accidentally shooting myself.” That was debated with the idea of having the gun in a safe. I answered back, "When would I have time to pull out a gun from a safe when someone is ready to shoot me?" But what would I know? The legislators must be the experts in education.
Arizona finally completed our week of statewide standardized assessments, otherwise known as the AIMS. Teachers and administrators were nervous wrecks. I helped administer the AIMS in several different classrooms this year, and there were 3 kinds of looks on the students’ faces: frustration, indifference, or excitement. (Unfortunately I only saw one really excited student.) Our school will receive its “grade” by the summer, and teachers will be contacted with a “grade,” based on the performance of their students on the AIMS. The Department of Education and our school districts apply our students’ performance on standardized assessments to determine the teachers’ proficiency as educators. This impacts our evaluations, which in turn affects our salaries. Yet teachers have consistently communicated for over a decade the pitfalls of standardized assessments. Teachers have provided administrators with alternative methods of assessment. Have they been implemented?? Obviously the Department of Educations must be the expert in education.
What’s my point? Is it to defend Common Core standards, propose school safety measures, or rebel against standardized assessment? Not today. I usually do. But I am tired. I’ve taught for 15 years in two different states. I received my National Board Teaching Certification and attended countless professional development sessions, curriculum seminars, and teacher conferences. I actively read the latest pedagogical articles and books to further myself as a lifelong teacher/ learner. But am I viewed as an expert? Unfortunately no. The nation seems to want to appoint the media, legislators, and state administrators as the experts in education. The next time you want to believe the “experts in education,” ask yourself, how often are they in the classroom? What makes them the experts? Who is tuned in to the needs and wants of children? Maybe it’s time to listen to the teachers. We do have the answers.