Susan Ohanian.org: Education Week Relegates Common Core Criticism to its Bloggers
Anthony Cody offers Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors in his Nov. 16, 2013, Education Week blog. From Error #1: The process by which the Common Core standards were developed and adopted was undemocratic to Error #10: The biggest problem of American education and American society is the growing number of children living in poverty. Leonie Haimson made some important additional points:
data collection: the legal agreements between the US Ed Dept and PARCC and SBAC, the two Common Core testing consortia that the feds funded, include a statement that the feds would gain access to any and all data collected by these groups.
And what about the damaging quotas for informational text, and the unsupported focus on "close reading"? And the fact that the standards (which really constrict curriculum and instructional methods as well) have never been piloted anywhere?
Thomas Ultican makes a good point too.
Anthony, this is a great summary. You have done a wonderful service by illuminating the clear dangers associated with this unprofessionally developed and strong-armed through program. I do have one insignificant quibble with your article. I believe standards based education is bad pedagogy. I do think some sort of guidelines with no enforcement mechanism would be useful but the name standards connotes "do it or face the consequences." This leads to bad teaching and the undermining of the desire to learn.
I wrote the clarion call against Standards One Size Fits Few: The Folly of Educational Standards more than a decade ago. As one reviewer commented, it is at once funny and sad. These days, I'm hard pressed to find anything funny about the Common Core, which is soul-destroying for teachers as well as children.
Common standards, if crafted in a democratic process and carefully reviewed by teachers and tested in real classrooms, might well be a good idea. But the Common Core does not meet any of those conditions.
The Common Core has been presented as a paradigmatic shift beyond the test-and-punish policies of NCLB. However, we are seeing the mechanisms for testing, ranking, rewarding and punishing simply refined, and made even more consequential for students, teachers and schools. If we use the critical thinking the Common Core claims to promote, we see this is old wine in a new bottle, and it turned to vinegar long ago.
For all these reasons, I believe any implementation of the Common Core should be halted. The very corporations that are outsourcing good jobs are promoting the Common Core, which deflects attention from their failure to the nation's economy and their failure as good citizens. I do not believe the standards themselves are significantly better than those of most states, and thus they do not offer any real advantages. The process by which they were adopted was undemocratic, and lacking in meaningful input from expert educators. The early results we see from states that are on the leading edge provide evidence of significant damage this project is causing to students already. No Child Left Behind has failed, and we need a genuine shift in our educational paradigm, not the fake-out provided by Common Core.
The frustration evident in recent public hearings in New York is a powerful indicator of a process gone badly awry. The public was not consulted in any meaningful way on decisions to fundamentally alter the substance of teaching and learning in the vast majority of schools in our nation. This process and the content of these standards are deeply flawed, and the means by which student performance is measured continues to damage children.
This did not happen by accident. Powerful people have decided that because they have the money and influence to make things happen, they can do so. But in a democracy, the people ought to have the last word. Decisions such as this ought not be made at secret gatherings of billionaires and their employees. The education of the next generations of Americans is something we all have a stake in.
And so, fellow citizens: Speak Up, Opt Out, Teach On!
I receive many e-mails from teachers in mourning for their careers. They insist they cannot "Teach On." They ask me for advice on getting out of teaching, a career they've loved for years, and finding other work. With unions supporting Common Core; with the media ignoring teachers; with Facebook and Twitter making individual talk so cheap, Speak Up seems futile. Opt Out is the solution. Think about what would happen if every teacher in just one school refused.
Refusal means stepping up for children and taking the first step in reclaiming the teaching profession.
Of course Education Week relegates all such important discussion to a blog, keeping such stuff far away from their print edition where it might taint all those ads for Common Core products. Take October 9, enveloped by a glossy ad Common Core results are in--4 slick pages advertising a Common Core delivery system. Predictably, inside there are ads, including those for Education Week's own webinars on Common Core. One article about the Common Core has this headline: "Common-Core Rollout Opens Up R&D Opportunities." Yes, Common Core opportunities is what Education Week is all about. A commentary argues for high standards and testing.
The most curious thing in the whole issue is an Education Week ad for its blogs. But they only brag about the blogs of their own reporters--no mention of Anthony Cody or Nancy Flanagan or Deborah Meier, who discuss the real deal about public education--based on long years in schools.
An article in the November 14, 2013 issue brings us Retooled Textbooks Aim to Capture Common Core. The reader is told that Pearson's Reading Street series for fifth graders excised "reader response" questions and replaced them with prompts asking students to "use examples from the text to justify your answer." And that such "citing evidence, to de-emphasizing personal responses to readings... nod in the direction of the Common Core State Standards' English/language arts expectations."
The thrust of the article is embodied in this question "Are the changes sufficient?"
A better question would be, Are the changes sane?" Excising Reader Response??!! But Education Week is all about implementing Common Core, not questioning it. The reader gets quotes from experts on what hard work it is to make the changes to Common Core demands--but no quotes from experts who point out how wrong-headed these changes are from the point of child development, psychology, learning theory, literary theory--not to mention justice, democracy, and the common good.
At the bottom of the article there is this statement: Coverage of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the common assessments is supported in part by a grant from the GE Foundation, at www.ge.com/foundation.
The GE Foundation, of course, gave a grant to Student Achievement Partners (co-founded by Common Core entrepreneur David Coleman): $18 million to "provide critical implementation support for Common Core State Standards across the U.S."
Education Week publishes a notice of its funders, in alphabetical order--from The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Wallace Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
On Nov. 5, 2013, Education Week published Follow the Money: Gates Giving for Its Teacher Agenda, a graph listing institutions receiving more than $10 million in Gates money. This is definitely worth studying. The reader can click on an alphabetical list for all Gates education grants.
The reader can also click on this disclosure statement:
EDUCATION WEEK RECEIVES GATES AID
Since 2005, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants to Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit corporation that publishes Education Week.
That total includes a current grant of $2 million over 25 months to support the development of new content and services related to the education industry and innovation in K-12 education.
Also, the Gates Foundation provided a $2.6 million grant over 40 months, starting in 2009, to underwrite a range of efforts to support EPE's editorial and business-development capacity.
Significantly, this graph is published online--nowhere near all those ads.
I'm glad that Anthony Cody, Nancy, Flanagan, and Deborah Meier blog. Their wisdom doesn't come close to balancing Education Week's bias.
So far in 2013, Education Week has published 435 articles about the Common Core--such stuff as a commentary titled "A Happy Tale From a Common-Core Classroom"-- written by someone who writes common-core curriculum for Scholastic, as well as Student Achievement Partners. Another Commentary, "Setting the Record Straight," is by the education division director of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, who offer the expected conclusion, "With students, parents, teachers, and principals on the same page and working together toward shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from high school well prepared to succeed and build a strong future for themselves, their communities, and the nation."
And there's a commentary about teachers "taking ownership" of the Common Core from Vicki Phillips, director of education in the College Ready program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Robert L. Hughes, president of New Visions for Public Schools
I won't go into a rant about "taking ownership" babble and blather but just advise that for critical views on the Common Core, one must put down the Education Week paper and go to the blogs.
This blog post has been shared by permission from the author.
Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.
Find the original post here:
The views expressed by the blogger are not necessarily those of NEPC.