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Common Core State [sic] Standards


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    The Chicago Teachers Union Drinks the Gates Kool-Aid

    by Susan Ohanian

    The Chicago Teachers Union has sent out an announcement celebrating the 12th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair.


    But if you scroll down the announcement, you'll come to the Current Professional Development Offerings.

    2013 Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center
    New Teacher Professional Development Offerings

    All courses aligned to the new CPS Framework for Teaching and the Common Core State Standards
    $195* for Three Hours Graduate Level CPS Lane Placement Credits and/or 45 CPDUs/PTPs

    Organizing the Elementary Classroom for Teaching and Learning

    Organizing the High School Classroom for Teaching and Learning

    * Price does not include book fee/materials fee, if required (see individual course descriptions). Price quoted is for CTU members only.

    To explain the Common Core, the Quest Center links to EngageNY, a document of the New York State Department of Education which emphasizes the Data-Driven Instruction cycle (DDI).

    Watch those verbs

    The CTU notes that "CPS is not currently mandating any particular lesson plan format system-wide" but advises teachers that "including Blooms Taxonomy verbs in your objectives will provide clarity regarding the type of work students will do to show their competency with the skills you are teaching."

    It is interesting to note that the advice CTU gives teachers contradicts what Common Core architect David Coleman preached. He debunked "prior knowledge," insisting that students be directed to the text and only the text.

    Q: What does "text complexity" mean in relation to the CCSS? Iâve heard that we should only be giving students very challenging, non-fiction texts to read.

    A: The CCSS initiative describes text complexity in terms of three factors: quantitative measures, such as Flesch-Kincaid (readability) levels; qualitative evaluation, such as levels of meaning, complexity of themes, and language conventionality; and "reader and task" considerations, such as the relevance of a particular text to the students' prior knowledge and experiences as well as to the task at hand. All three factors should be considered equally when selecting text for students to read. The CCSS contain specific guidelines for how much fiction vs. non-fiction text students should be reading at particular grade levels, which are described in the CPS Literacy Content Framework; while teachers are expected to follow these guidelines, it is still up to teachers to determine exactly what their students will read, taking all three factors into consideration when choosing specific texts.

    "Best Practices" is the answer

    Q. What should I do to meet the needs of my special education students?

    A: The standards were written with the assumption that with appropriate accommodations all students, including those with exceptional needs, can achieve them. You should continue to differentiate your instruction, following all IEP requirements, goals, and modifications, and implement "best practices" in your curriculum to meet the needs of all your learners.

    Yes, indeed, teacher. Just implement "best practices" and you'll do fine.

    The reader is directed to the Chicago Public Schools website, where the first thing encountered is a PowerPoint slide declaring, "CPS consists of a system of schools that prepares every student, in every community, to succeed in college and career."

    How cynical can it get? Chicago has over 100 schools without libraries. Not to mention the more than 15,000 homeless children.

    Recommended websites: Just Ask Bill

    For more advice, the CTU tells teachers that the following websites contain "useful, reliable information about the Common Core State Standards." This harkens back to Bill Clinton's infamous "It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If theâif heâif 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement"

    I would parse the CTU use of "reliable" the same way.

  • Achieve the Core, AKA Student Achievement Partners, the outfit founded by David Coleman that received $18 million from the GE Foundation to push the Common Core

  • ASCD, which has received millions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core

  • Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project, whose development was financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

  • ISBE Common Core [Illinois State Board of Education], which makes the bold claim that the Common Core is "evidence-based." They don't say whose evidence.

  • PARRC online needs no introduction

  • The Teaching Channel, which has received $11,076,761 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to push the Common Core. I provide more information here

  • The National PTA
    OK, I laughed out loud. The PTA received buckets of money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core, and that's what they do.

  • Kudos
    Three cheers to CTU for not mentioning the AFT Share My Lesson offal, which is the worst collection of junk traveling as Common Core lessons that I have encountered.

    Research Needed

    The CTU Quest Center makes this claim: CTU's Quest Center conducts research on issues important to our members and to all public education advocates. They offer position papers on the following topics:

  • Class Sizes

  • High Stakes Testing

  • Merit Pay

  • Extended Day

  • The CTU Question Center doesn't seem to have a position paper on the Common Core. It's past time for them to do some real research in this area--instead of just offering teachers hot links to people who have swallowed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Kool-Aid.

    Here's the back story.

    The Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center awarded $600,000 American Federation of Teachers Innovation Fund Grant

    Aug. 30, 2011

    The Chicago Teachers Union Quest Center has been awarded a grant for $600,000 ($200,000 for each of the next three years) by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) for their proposal to hire teams of teacher leaders to partner with the Union's curriculum and instruction experts. The grant will create model units of instruction, classroom performance assessments, and materials aligned to the new, higher and more rigorous set of state-adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

    The CCSS identify what students are expected to know and be able to do in math and English language arts. Eight teacher development teams will also train colleagues across the district to tailor the model units to meet the unique learning needs of each classroom and capitalize on the pedagogical strengths of each teacher.

    This is the first time CTU has been awarded this competitive grant. The CTU Quest Center is one of only five recipients of the Innovation Fund grants, supported by the AFT and several private philanthropies.

    The Chicago Teachers Union sold out way too cheaply. And who did they sell out to? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation were among big funders of this AFT grant.

    Whatever Bill wants, Bill gets--even from the Chicago Teachers Union.

    — Susan Ohanian

    November 14, 2012

    Index of Common Core [sic] Standards

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