The Common Core State Standards (CCSS), currently being implemented in the Ellensburg School District, are an anathema.
They arguably violate the constitutional-based directions that the education of our children is grounded in parental and local community control. The “20 U.S.C. 3403: US Code states: “b) No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize … any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration or personnel of any education, school or school system … textbooks, or other instructional materials by an educational institution or school system.”
Secretary Arne Duncan and the federal Department of Education ignored this prohibition by providing multi-hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and contracts to encourage development of the core standards and the online computer tests to measure student learning and the effectiveness of teachers and principals.
The development of the core standards was bought and paid for by the Department of Education and large national and international computer and digital based corporations; e.g., Microsoft and the Gates Foundation. The seductive siren calls of the millions of dollars offered as bribes were too much for the National Governor’s Association, the Council of State School Officers, national and state associations of school administrators and school directors to refuse.
In fact, individual states “fought” each other via the submission of competitive grant proposals in an effort to receive funding. They sold their souls by buying into conditions that required them to surrender local control of education for an unknown, undeveloped and untested national curriculum.
Know what you’re buying
The commonly understood American idiom to caution such action is, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke.” This means, of course, don’t buy something without knowing its true value. Or in the case of the core standards, don’t seek something without a full and complete understanding not only of what you are “buying” but also what you are giving up.
There is no “yellow brick road” leading to a magical core standards curriculum. The path forward requires the continuing surrender by state governors, education directors, school associations, local school directors local school administrators who are willing to “give up” their authority to approve local education programs to buy a pig in a poke.
Interesting enough, principals and teachers nationally are resigning, or retiring, early because of the impact implementing the core standards has on their professional behavior in school administrative offices and classrooms. Here is a description from a principal who resigned early because of the impact of the testing requirements.
“The students’ scores are used to measure teacher growth and effectiveness and to help plan instruction. The state claims that we need these tests to determine if students are on the path to college and careers. The students get a number that impacts the teacher’s number and that impacts the principal’s number. This is not the purpose of public education.” — Chris Cerrone, “A Principal Retires on Principle,” April 30, 2013.
Another retirement gone viral is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/teacher-resignation-video-ellie-rubenstein_n_3328117.html. Ellie Rubenstein said “Raising student test scores on standardized tests is now the only goal, and in order to achieve it the creativity, flexibility and spontaneity that create authentic learning environments have been eliminated. Everything I love about teaching is extinct.”
Another teacher said, “when the arts are tossed, experiential learning stopped, any divergent path of learning blocked and instead students and teachers are straightjacketed into only what is on the test, drilling and drilling until they can regurgitate the right answer on the standardized test, our children are not being [educated] but are being suffocated.” (remandfx responds, May 23/2013 in response to the Rubenstein resignation video by Valerie Hudson, “The Answer Sheet,” The Washington Post at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/23/teachers-resignation-video-everything-i-loved-about-teaching-is-extinct/.
I began by stating “The Common Core State Standards are an anathema.” But now I am more convinced than ever the CCSS will prepare students to be the lower caste “proles” in a dystopian society as described by George Orwell in “1984.” This may not be the intended consequence, but it certainly will be an unintended consequence as the core standards are implemented.
Jimmie Applegate is a retired Central Washington University professor. His resume includes a term as president of the Washington Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.