By M. Norris
As a Georgia teacher who left the classroom to fight against Common Core full time, I’m not sure where to begin addressing your misunderstanding. First, Texas is not a Common Core state so I’m not sure how your gun argument links to Common Core, but I will pretend, for your point, that it is. You mention that the textbook publisher did not write the standards. Well, in fact, they did. Pearson, who now owns McGraw Hill, Prentice Hall, Harcourt, Random House, and about 40 other educational publishing houses (http://www.pearson.com/about-us/education/north-america.html), did have a seat at the table in the writing of Common Core. They are now collecting billions of dollars as every single school in 45 states replaces their textbooks, with one of the hundreds of texts already written and published by Pearson (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/). The standards are silent on interpretations of the Bill of Rights, but they are used as “informational text,” in English/language arts classrooms without explanation or context. Math teachers are expected to use Science content and English/language Arts teachers are expected to use social studies documents (http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_B.pdf). None of it is used within the context of understanding.
You are correct in saying the Common Core standards are not political. Both sides of the aisle are equally as culpable for this disaster. As a Democrat I stand side-by-side with Republicans and Independents to end them. After 18 months with Common Core in my classroom I saw first hand the damage they were doing to my students. It was only because of my doctoral work that I began to understand why my students were frustrated. I began to see high absentee rates, the self-cutting, the hair pulling, and the behavior problems. This is what I came to learn and why I had to give my Title 1 students a voice.
1. Common Core Standards were not written by ANY teachers, or child development experts. The writers have often bragged about how unqualified they were to write the standards. It has much to do with the fact that they attacked them like a business thinker would. They made a list of everything a child should know to get into a non-selective community college and worked backwards. Sadly when they got to first grade, they had lots of stuff left over. They left out key foundational learning elements, which is why standards are designed from foundation forward, not backward (http://www.edwatchusa.org/2014/01/blooms-taxonomy-and-decades-of-research-and-classroom-practice-ignored/). The end goal for CC is a set of standardized workers. Of the top 20 projected growth jobs in the state of GA in 2020, only 3 require a college degree. The Standards design team began by using Algebra 2 as the most difficult math needed. No trig, no advanced algebra, no calculus. Watch here as Jason Zimba explains how Common Core does not prepare students for anything but non-selective colleges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJZY4mh2rt8
2. I am certain you have seen the hundreds of videos of children melting down over homework they don’t understand. Let’s take a 3 month-old baby. In order to meet the standard this baby needs to be speaking by 4 months. As his teacher, I will scaffold, and differentiate and use every teaching tool I have. Am I going to get that baby to speak? No, of course not. You see children’s brains go through a series of development stages (http://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html). They can accomplish certain things at certain stages. Some go through the stages more quickly than others, but all children go through the same stages. Common Core takes none of this into consideration. Obviously when you have a lawyer, two entrepreneurs and two research professors who have never taught K-12 nor do any of them have a background in teaching, you are going to have design problems. Research them and see exactly who they were in bed with on this. It will make your stomach churn. It was arrogant of them to think they even could design standards. Ahhhhh, but they were not designing standards for education…..were they? Over 500 early child development experts who reviewed the standards signed a statement clearly stating the Common Core standards were developmentally inappropriate for the K-3 ages. (http://www.edweek.org/media/joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf )It was ignored.
3. The idea that the “real world” belongs in the classroom is a mistake. The classroom and business operate on two very different paradigms. Education is the foundation for the real world. If we wanted real world why bother with educating? What Common Core has created is a reboot of the guild system from the middle ages. By testing a child and assigning them to a “career path” at a young age you are ensuring that the child will never be able to choose what they want to do. When we went to school the client in education was the child. We were pushed to be the best we could be. We were given a foundation that worked no matter what we wanted to do with our lives. Today under CC the client in education is big business and our children are a product for them. Even worse we are standardizing our children. Much like a McDonalds hamburger tastes the same no matter where you buy it, Gates and his cronies want a workforce that is entirely the same.
4. Data. This entire thing is data driven. Bill Gates did not spend millions of dollars for nothing. Imagine the power of a database with all personal and testing data from every child P-20. That is what is pushing this. Along with the money Pearson is making. This is about money, greed and campaign donations. Just look at how much money Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst has pumped into Georgia politicians (www.followthemoney.com).
I’m going to steal an example from Peg Luksik (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzLrYIDQiqY) and ask you to imagine this scenario. Imagine the standard you are working on is to bake a chocolate cake. Let’s say I wrote the standard and I want you to bake a chocolate cake exactly like mine. When you are done I am going to come back and test your cake. It must be exactly like mine, and even taste like mine. So we have a standard and a test. What has to happen in between that standard and that test in order to get the exact chocolate cake outlined in the standard? A curriculum. And if the cake is going to taste the exact same, how much leeway do you have between the standard and the test? Not much, if any. That is how the standards drive the curriculum. That is why teachers will continue to teach to the test. It has nothing to do with the transitive property. It has to do with a test that measures only one grade level and only one small set of skills http://www.scribd.com/doc/201479293/At-the-Educational-Crossroads.
CCSS.Math.Content.6.EE.A.4, is a sixth grade standard requiring abstract thinking in a concrete brain. There is nothing wrong with learning this skill. But with no foundation building, only concrete thinking available, and the abstract requirement “the expressions y + y + y and 3y are equivalent because they name the same number regardless of which number y stands for..” is as difficult as making a 4 month old talk or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YLlX61o8fg.