Monday, September 23, 2013

Warning! Some Common Core Resource Materials May be Harmful to Your Career

Teachers and administrators found out last week that some of the typical resource materials recommended by some providers for teaching the Common Core are not appropriate for our Louisiana culture and particularly not appropriate for some student age groups. The only thing that may have saved the Vermilion Parish teacher who sent home Common Core aligned worksheets to 4th graders containing the words "mobstaz" and "pimp" was that she downloaded them from the Parish web site. When angry parents attacked the school board with the equivalent of pitchforks and axes, local Superintendent Jerome Puyau saved the day by taking full responsibility for not filtering out the objectionable material from the school system web site. Since the incident, central office staff in Vermilion Parish have reviewed all resource materials with a fine tooth comb to make certain that inappropriate or offensive materials have been removed.

Since our LDOE has taken a lassez faire attitude relative to common core resource materials, there may be many more instances of inappropriate materials going home with kids. Until recently, our LDOE prescribed in great detail every GLE that must be taught to each student in each subject and each grade. Now instead of the DOE and local school systems prescribing the precise materials to be used in the classroom, Superintendent White has announced that he wants to "empower" teachers to develop or select their own Common Core materials. Some of the resources such as Engage New York which were developed by the New York state Department of Education are just not appropriate for Louisiana in my opinion. Using these materials without careful review would be a  big mistake. Also using the Internet in general to find Common Core materials is a very dangerous practice for educators considering that the Internet is like the wild west when it comes to all sorts of inappropriate materials available for Common Core teaching.

Teachers should not be lulled by White into thinking that they really are "empowered" or have the academic freedom to use any materials they want for teaching common core concepts. Now that White and Jindal have succeeded in destroying most tenure protections, teachers could easily be dismissed if the material they send home is objectionable to parents.

Many parents are very suspicious of the common core. Some tea party groups believe it is an inappropriate federal mandate designed to indoctrinate all children with liberal or socialistic values. Others have noted that the common core was adopted in Louisiana without consulting with any experienced educators, without approval of any school boards, and is a totally untested curriculum. No one knows yet whether some of the common core requirements are appropriate both socially and pedagogically. Thousands of our students will be guinea pigs in this great rushed experiment to implement a whole new philosophy of education. My understanding is that regular elementary/secondary classroom teachers had very little to do with the writing of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Much of the Common Core standards (which really amount to a whole new curriculum) were developed by academic elitists led by College Board CEO, David Coleman, who wanted to make certain that all of our students are college ready when they graduate from high school. Don't believe that rubbish about the Common Core not being a curriculum. In our present education environment, standards and testing absolutely dictate the curriculum. In fact the huge Pearson publishing empire which is helping to design the PARCC testing and is expected to reap millions from the project, also publishes textbooks that are aligned to the common core. Some educators have observed that the Pearson textbooks seem to have almost identical reading passages as those found in the early versions of the Common Core tests.

I just need to add one more thing: The adoption and implementation of the common core and the very expensive PARCC testing in Louisiana will make a mockery of our entire accountability system. In case you had not noticed, both the VAM and the school rating (grading) system in Louisiana are totally manipulated by our "bosses" in the DOE to produce any results they want. To further make this point, John White was apparently alarmed by the terrible results from the first Common Core testing in Kentucky and New York States. So in a recent conference call with local Superintendents, White sought to calm fears about a similar fiasco in Louisiana by suggesting that he will "adjust" the proficient rating for students at least for the first few years by going down one point on the five point scale used to report results and determine proficiency. I think White was more worried that terrible results on PARCC in Louisiana may tarnish his image as the miracle worker of Louisiana education.

One more thing: Are you as irritated as I am about White constantly announcing that Louisiana students "are just as smart as students in other states".  Just what is he basing this pronouncement upon? Is it Louisiana's NAEP scores? Did someone secretly run IQ tests on Louisiana students? Is it White's extensive education credentials that would not even qualify him to be a principal in Louisiana that qualifies him to make this judgement? Or is it White's need to blame  the real professional educators in Louisiana just in case our students don't perform very well on the Common Core tests?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Throw out Orleans parish and East Baton Rouge Parish test scores and Louisiana is about 25-30 in the Country

Anonymous said...

Paragraph 4 Sentence 3 - error
Common Core is NOT a curriculum.

Jury's still out on what it is, but Common Core Standards are NOT a curriculum.

Mary Martin said...

When my family relocated to PA from LA I had great concerns about the school transition. My whole life I have heard how inferior LA schools are to the rest of the country. My children are good students, but I feared the worst with the move because the school we were moving to ranked very high. To my surprise, my children were far ahead of our school here, and joined the next grade ahead of them for part of the day. Thank you for taking a stand against Common Core.

Anonymous said...

Correction: NAEP

Michael Deshotels said...

Thanks, I corrected NAPE to NAEP.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Paragraph 4 Sentence 3 - error
Common Core is NOT a curriculum.

Jury's still out on what it is, but Common Core Standards are NOT a curriculum.

Teachers are not going to reinvent the wheel, they will take what works and then refine it until someone says it doesn't work anymore and move on to the next "reform". (I'm not sure why Common Core has become so vogue, it has been my understanding that state standards were taken from a national council on curriculum (each discipline has its own council) for the past Lord knows how many years! but I digress....) Common Core Standards may not be a curriculum...but teachers have been symbolically (in the press) placed on an island with doing what they think is best for their kids verbally, while being flogged with a standardized whip called VAM. It is a lonely island with too much risk involved if a teacher creates his own curriculum and it "fails" to test well. Therefore, with the adoption of Common Core standards...teachers are desperately seeking out a curriculum that will not leave them on "failure island". Whether you like it or not, the common core standards will beget a common core curriculum...one that proves successful in another state we aspire to mimic would be preferable (since our LA kids are just as smart as the rest of the country, if we use the same "curriculum" the "winners" are using...either the kids will excel like the superintendent believes, or they will be exposed to not be what the superintendent has hyped them up to be).

Anonymous said...

It's in vogue, because adoption of the Common Core came with a big, fat check from the Feds. Private schools have had to jump on board as well to get accreditation in their states.