Op-Ed: Common Core takes the joy out of teaching
A teacher involved in implementing Common Core in her classroom writes, “Common Core for the most part is teaching with a script, and scripts suck the oxygen out of a classroom.”
We are hearing more and more from teachers involved in the teaching of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that it is simply not working.
In the State of Tennessee, which is one of the earliest states to hop on the Common Core bandwagon and one of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s favorite states because it quickly fell into line, a recent survey by Vanderbilt University conducted of teachers in Tennessee now show a majority of the teachers (56 percent) believe that the Common Core should be abandoned. Not fine-tune or refine it, mind you, but abandon it!
Another poll released by “Education Next,”a journal published by the conservative Hoover Institution, found that the term “Common Core” has become toxic.
Common Core’s architect is David Coleman, a non-educator who wrote and developed the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are now being implemented in many states across the nation including Connecticut.
And who is David Coleman? Dana Goldstein in “The Atlantic” describes him as the pompous architect of Common Core who “is an idealistic, poetry-loving, controversy-stoking and a former McKinsey consultant who has determined, more than anyone else, what kids learn in American schools.”
Unfortunately, classroom teachers were deliberately excluded from the process of choosing curricula and devising the standards. Can you imagine doctors being excluded from helping to determine standards for the practice of medicine?
In the use of scripts in teaching the Common Core lessons, teachers are not allowed to use their own methods to introduce the material, manage the classroom, or share their own wisdom. Likewise, the students are not encouraged to connect the material to their own lives or things that may interest them. Hence, the script tells the teachers and students, at all times, what to say and do.
In essence, Common Core does not treat teachers or students with dignity.
Moreover, to make matters worst, with the increased amount of testing, referred to as SBAC, that will be ushered in and aligned with Common Core, teachers will be evaluated on how well students do on the SBAC tests. Is it any wonder why the teachers in Tennessee want to abandon Common Core? Needless to say, this also explains why parents across the country are revolting against Common Core as they learn what it does to the classroom and to their children’s learning.
Another problem of Common Core is that it is not developmentally appropriate and does harm to young children.
A kindergarten teacher, Ms. Angie Sullivan, writes “I teach kindergarten. There is very little that is developmentally appropriate about the K-2 Common Core. Write a fact and opinion essay at age 5?……we have 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum “pushed” down to Kindergarten.”
Christina Leventis in “Truth in American Education” writes, “Why is it that teachers involved in Common Core are afraid to speak out? Those who do speak will only do so anonymously and what they have to say about CCSS is not positive. These are the award winning, quality, caring teachers we are losing to the bureaucratic take over of our classrooms”
The tide is turning for many states concerning Common Core as parents learn more about its impact on learning as well as the negative impact on teaching as a profession. If the money that is being wasted on high-stakes standardized testing could only be invested in teaching and learning, it could spark a renewal of interest in the teaching profession.
Tests should only be used for diagnostic purposes to enhance learning, not to rank students and schools or evaluate teachers. Good teachers know how to awaken the minds and spirits of their students and to instill a love of learning.
We have had enough of the so-called accountability movement that has emanated from politicians as well as from the Bill Gates and Arne Duncans of the world. It is time to end the madness of Common Core and allow teachers the opportunity to teach without having to teach to the test.
Joseph A. Ricciotti, Ed.D., is a retired educator from Fairfield.
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