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Bully Tactics

Publication Date: 2013-11-13

This is from the Goddess' blog, Nov. 11, 2013.

The writer takes on Randi Weingarten and worksheets--the worksheets that come home, taking the place of real reading. They also take the place of real family conversation.

Last week saw some gems when it comes to bullying. A politician yelling at a teacher is one photo I will hold firmly in my brain as the field for 2016 elections begins to form. The Oklahoma officials basically warning teachers to stop speaking out about the "grading" of schools. The last straw for me was an article by Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT asking if states will "fail" the CCSS. Weingarten suggests that CCSS will disrupt the cycle of poverty and that is why civil rights groups are embracing the CCSS. Here is the final paragraph in her piece:


"If the Common Core is sunk--by default or design--it will undercut our ability to give all kids access to what they need to succeed and, of course, will undermine confidence in public education. That's why we must insist it be done right--and not give in to those who are rooting for these standards, and public schools themselves, to fail."


Let me see if I can get this straight. If we oppose CCSS, we are rooting for the failure of public education. If we think CCSS is not the panacea that some have called it, then we are fine with the status quo when it comes to the percentage of kids living in poverty. These are the implications from Weingarten (and from others as well). She offers a token "mid-course correction" alternative. Well, that would be lovely, Ms. Weingarten. But what kind of correction? Not a moratorium on testing, not a halt to the imperious and lock-stepped implementation many teachers are having to deal with. As The Beatles sang, "you know, we'd all love to see the plans."

Others are in the midst of a sort of revisionist history when it comes to CCSS, insisting they have either always been opposed to the standards or that there is no choice except to work within its confines. Neither seems a professional stance nor any solution to the situation at hand, a situation they created by their silence (and their continued support).

I wanted also to point out that although Texas did not adopt CCSS, we have our own idiocies when it comes to curriculum including an ELA curriculum crafted by SBOE members despite offers of assistance from the literacy groups across the state. I ran into an old friend of mine at Mass this weekend. Her youngest is now in first grade. So, I asked her about school. Her Mom bragged about her report card, all A's. But her daughter demurred reminding her Mom that she had one B, a B in "benchmark tests." Oh. Em. Gee. Here is a first grader who laments the poor "grade" in the practice exams she is already taking. This scene repeated itself later this past week when a friend's first grader talked about the homework she had to do each night.

When did we lose our way? When did worksheets come home, worksheets that take hours each night, worksheets that take the place of reading real books? When did AR become part of a kid's grade? It is time to step up and stand up to the bullies, the ones who insist on these false choices. It is not a time for slogans. It is a time for blunt speech. And it is way past time for our professional organizations to lead the charge against what they KNOW are standards with deep flaws and tests that do no more than line deep pockets, and data that dares to define our students.


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