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NCLB Outrages

Teachers Left Out of Standards Process

Standardistos will point out that through the collaboration of NCTE, IRA, and NCTM, teachers are included in the development of the Common Core Standards. Some teachers work for Achieve, the parent of these standards.

We are learning that getting rid of Bush/Spellings didn't really change things. After all, they were only figureheads for the Business Roundtable gameplan that started when Clinton was governor of Arkansas. Corporate raiders are in charge and life is about to get even worse in the Obama-Duncan regime.

By Michael Moore

Chatham County devotes to testing a staggering 10 weeks of a 36-week school year, according to Jenel Few's Nov. 2 article, "Teachers feel test pressures."

It's been preposterous for years and the lack of content instruction will surely show up in an undereducated workforce. However, Few's article is only the tip of an iceberg.

Teachers will soon be subjected to additional new standards, even though we don't know how they were developed, how they will be tested, or why teacher input was not included.

Georgia's tests are supposed to test our very own Georgia Performance Standards. Well, sort of.

Our tests aren't Georgia's tests; they're created by publishing giant McGraw-Hill. We've seen the mismatch between standards and publishers' tests in social studies and math. McGraw-Hill is making tons of money, especially on quarterly "practice" tests and test preparation materials. McGraw-Hill is not accountable to Georgians.

Interestingly, the issue of accountability is the main reason for the growing rift between a number of states and the U.S. Department of Education.

Several states have requested waivers from NCLB testing. Six states have asked to opt out of NCLB by refusing federal funding over the high stakes aspects of the law.

Since the budget cut for Reading First (and subsequent increase in Title I funding) and RF's widespread corruption and failure, some states are opting out of NCLB because it is now an unfunded mandate. It is wise to remember federal additions comprise only about 7 percent of each state's budget.

NCLB was designed as a response to two problems: a civil rights problem and a problem on the accountability of federal money in education. A recent essay in Teachers College Record examining federal oversight in NCLB and the Disabilities Education Act concludes NCLB has not been beneficial in anything but widening the federal state education gap.

NCLB has relied on the White House and the bipartisan legislators who wrote the bill for protection. However, any reauthorization attempt is going to come at a price and state driven high stakes accountability might be the price.

Next, the standards landscape is quickly changing. The National Governors Association and the Council of the Chief State School Officers (for our state, Sonny Perdue and Kathy Cox, not two names I think of when I think of quality education) just released the first draft of the U.S. common academic standards in reading and math developed initially to measure college and career readiness.

Forty-eight states have lent their support to this effort. These are to be followed by national standards for all grades in reading and math.

The reading and math work groups developing these standards have 29 members, including seven members representing the ACT, five members representing the SAT, and no teachers at all. No conflicts of interest there. The new standards ensure national high stakes testing in perpetuity.

The first draft of the standards, found at www.corestandards.org, has been met with confusion and concern from educators.

Early next year, states must provide a timeline and process for standards approval. I have seen nothing statewide asking for any input from anyone.

Chatham County teachers have much to consider. What do new state standards mean for our Georgia Performance Standards? How will these new national standards be tested? What will happen to the current CRCT and Georgia High School Proficiency exams? What staff development will prepare teachers for this implementation?

And the biggest question of all: Why aren't teachers involved in this process?

Michael Moore is a professor at Georgia Southern University.

— Michael Moore
Savannah Morning News


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