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Common Core State [sic] Standards


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    To Be or Not To Be: The Teacher Must Decide

    by Susan Ohanian

    Opportunists have always promoted stupid things in education, but the Common Core seems to send opportunism traveling as skills development over the top of Mount Absurdity. I clicked on an ad for Imagine Learning appearing on the ASCD Smartbrief (sic) that comes in my e-mail every day. I couldn't resist the sell: A Cure for the Common Core.

    Every literacy salesman in the country is now selling The Cure.

    Imagine Learning invited me to See how the new Imagine Learning version 12 is closely aligned with the Common Core standards. The program features over 500 new activities, all specifically designed to address the Common Core.

    I chose to watch a video on the Grammar Strand. Here's a description.

    K-1 students receive focused instruction on nouns, verbs, question words, prepositions, singular and plural nouns, proper nouns, adjectives, pronouns, sentence structure, sentence order, present tense verbs, and the verb to be.

    Example: Use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future. CCSS | Literacy.L.1.1e

    The sample video instructing kindergartners on various forms of to be is so bizarre, it is almost funny as it explains to kindergartners that 'to be' is an irregular verb.

    There are other sample videos on Informational Text.

    Imagine Learning promises material to help these "student populations": English Learners, Struggling Students, Early Childhood Education Students, Students with Disabilities. The sell is that Imagine Learning will provide

  • direct strategy instruction;

  • adaptive curriculum;

  • ongoing assessment

  • for each of these groups.

    Seeing this, you won't be surprised to learn that Imagine Learning was founded in 2004 by Susan W. Preator. Preator is former vice-president of Waterford Institute, where she spent ten years building and directing the team that developed the Waterford Early Reading Program, a software solution distributed by Pearson Digital Learning. She holds a BA in English from Brigham Young University and lists her skills and expertise as:

    *Instructional Design
    *Public Speaking

    Imagine Learning sprinkles its website with claims of "science based." Here's one claim:

    The Imagine Learning English curriculum is founded on scientifically based research and state standards. Each activity was developed to incorporate practices proven to be effective. Instructional designers at Imagine Learning, all former teachers, relied on their classroom experience and sought the advice of experts in the field.

    I am particularly enraged that Stephen Krashen's work is listed in the reference section, suggesting that this work supports what Imagine Learning is doing.

    Joe Swenson became CEO of Imagine Learning in 2012.

  • President/COO at Imagine Learning

  • Mission President -- Chile Concepcion South at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

  • President/CEO at DynaVox Technologies: Medical Devices Industry

  • Senior Vice President at Hill-Rom Company: Medical Devices Industry

  • President/General Manager at Hill-Rom Company Europe
  • Manager of Strategic Planning at Hillenbrand Industries: Consumer Goods Industry

  • Education: Brigham Young University: Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), Marketing

    He lists his skills on LinkedIn as:

    *Strategic Planning
    *Product Development
    *Competitive Analysis
    *Executive Management
    *Marketing Strategy

    These are the skills that bring the analysis of the verb "to be" to the nation's kindergartners.

    At least Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, the iconic 19th century "cure" for women's woes, contained alcohol, which gave the imbiber some chance of a temporary relaxed feeling. Young imbibers of the "to be" video are in for nothing but confusion.

    But Joe Swenson is doing what he knows how to do: leading a team to examinine the market and coming up with products that market will buy. If the product is inappropriate to the needs of kindergartners, who is more to blame: the company that produces it or the teachers who buy it as "the cure" for the Common Core and inflict it on young children?

    It is past time for teachers to stand up and do what they are good at doing: teaching children.

    Start by saying


    — Susan Ohanian
    November 29, 2012

    Index of Common Core [sic] Standards

Pages: 33   
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