Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pushing The Pendulum

We often use a pendulum metaphor when talking about political issues, and while it's true that things tend to swing back and forth, sometimes even from one extreme to another, it's a flawed metaphor in that nothing changes unless people get together and push.

Last weekend, a group of committed labor and education activists pushed the Washington State Democratic Party to pass a resolution condemning the tragically flawed Common Core national curriculum. As author and activist Anthony Cody reports on his blog Living in Dialog:

This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party. (Link added by me)

There are not a lot of bi-partisan issues in our nation anymore, but opposition to the take-over of our public schools by the federal government and unaccountable corporations appears to be emerging as one of them, albeit perhaps for different reasons: politics often makes for strange bedfellows.

Speaking in favor of the resolution, state committee member Brian Gunn of the 31st legislative district said:

We have to take into account corporations are looking at our children as commodities. This is a moral issue. We're allowing corporations that produce these materials and sponsor these tests to treat our children as sources of income . . . a source of profit. And that source of profit is our own children . . . We have to see that as a moral issue, and not cede that responsibility away from the place where it belongs, which is hopefully our state schools and our state teachers -- and allow them to make choices about what the standards should be.

This should be happening in every state in the union, but it's not a free-swinging pendulum that will, according to the dictates of gravity, come back to those of us who want our children's education to be in the hands of professional teachers, parents, local communities, and the students themselves. We must get out there and push. It's how democracy is supposed to work.

Some of the activists who lead this effort have published a convenient article entitled "How to Get Your State Democratic Committee to Oppose Common Core."

And here is a link to the flyer they circulated to party delegates, the text of which I'm publishing below. Our children need us to save them from the test score coal mines. The pendulum doesn't swing on it's own.

Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors

Error #1: The process by which the Common Core standards were developed and adopted was undemocratic.

Error #2: The Common Core State Standards violate what we know about how children develop and grow.

Error #3: The Common Core is inspired by a vision of market-driven innovation enabled by standardization of curriculum, tests, and ultimately, our children themselves.

Error #4: The Common Core creates a rigid set of performance expectations for every grade level, and results in tightly controlled instructional timelines and curriculum.

Error #5: The Common Core was designed to be implemented through an expanding regime of high-stakes tests, which will consume an unhealthy amount of time and money.

Error #6: Proficiency rates on the new Common Core tests have been dramatically lower -- by design.

Error #7: Common Core relies on a narrow conception of the purpose of K-12 education as "career and college readiness."

Error #8: The Common Core is associated with an attempts to collect more student and teacher data than ever before.

Error #9: The Common Core is not based on any external evidence, has no research to support it, has never been tested and worst of all, has no mechanism for correction.

Error #10: The biggest problem of American education and American society is the growing number of children living in poverty.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a public school educator, "Thank you"!

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