The adoption of the Common Core learning standards in New York State has created a lucrative opportunity for educational publishers like Pearson Education, while leaving our children behind.
As states and schools rush to buy products aligned to the new standards, our children suffer because of a callous disregard for their educational needs.
Core-aligned tests are diminishing our children’s creativity and enthusiasm to learn while handcuffing our teachers to specific, developmentally inappropriate standards and curricular materials. Our kids don’t all develop according to a specific map; they learn by interaction through experiences that are unique to each child. They can’t be force-fed.
Our teachers are seeing a notable shift in math instruction. For example, asking an 8-year-old a math related multiple-choice question like “Which is a related subtraction sentence?” hardly seems like something a third grade student would understand.
English instructors have noticed a more heavy emphasis on non-fiction texts with new standards. A “Lexile” score is one of the methods used to gauge reading difficulty within the common core standards. These scores are based on how difficult texts are to read; actual content and in-depth meaning play second fiddle. The complexity of meaning in both classic literature and high-interest young adult novels has been disregarded.
Educators and parents in New York State are taking a stand against the common core and New York State Education Commissioner John King for good reason. NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) union, with 600,000 members, recently passed a resolution to remove King and withdraw support for the Common Core State Standardized testing. At the same time, our governor’s silence on this issue is beyond disappointing.
So far, the testing has proved to be nothing but offensive and ineffective to parents, students and educators alike throughout the state. In recent months, the NYS common core website linked children to a sex quiz site, while Mr. King brushed off accusations from concerned parents and judged the common core’s popularity on the number of “hits” on the NY webpage.
The current Common Core standards are limited to English and math, but will expand to all subjects in the coming years. Instead of rolling these standards in one grade level at a time over several years, as other states have done, New York State has implemented them for every math and English student from third to eighth grade at once.
Along with the standards and the assessments, teachers are now subjected to modules — scripted 10-week units that they are to follow in order to stay aligned to the core. Teacher artistry and creativity has been decimated, and although the commissioner may claim that the modules are not mandated, that local control of curriculum still exists, a closer look says otherwise: up to 25 percent of a grade 3-8 Math or ELA teacher’s annual evaluation is based on the grade-level state assessment, and the message at area common core trainings is that questions on the assessments will be structured like those on the modules. This is clearly a back-door mandate, and New York State teachers and students are at risk of becoming generic.
Despite thousands of teacher layoffs in an era when state education aid has been drastically reduced, NYS is hiring “common core coaches” to come into our schools to help with the transition.
Common Core can be traced back to the 2009 stimulus bill, which gave $4.35 billion to the Federal Department of Education. This created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, states needed to adopt Common Core. Participating states would then be exempt from many of the difficult provisions of the “No Child Left Behind” program.
To date, Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, but many are already jumping ship, with opposition developing in the states of Utah, California, Indiana, and Missouri among others.
The Common Core is further marred by the large corporations reaping the profits of its implementation. Pearson education executives believed the Common Core work performed by their nonprofit arm could later be sold by their for-profit organization and generate “tens of millions of dollars” for the company. They have since agreed to pay $7.5 million to avoid prosecution by the Attorney General of New York state for blurring the lines between its not for profit and for profit company.
We shouldn’t educate our kids because of the mere marketability of an educational reform, or by diluting individual choice by directing children where to go and what to learn. Stealing our educator’s creative talents in exchange for a cookie cutter education for our children is just plain unacceptable.