Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Real Experts on the Common Core

The following is a letter by three Louisiana teachers giving their opinion about the Common Core Standards. I believe this letter accurately reflects the view of many teachers across the state. In February of this year I conducted an opinion poll on Common Core using this blog which you may view by clicking here. The great majority of persons responding to my poll were teachers but there were also some parents and administrators who answered the poll. Even I was surprised by the percentage of persons who believed that we should never have adopted these so called "standards". I happen to trust the professionals out in the classrooms and also the parents who get to see the CCSS by observing the homework their children bring home. I believe these people understand the true effects of the CCSS much better than the big business lobbyists and the mainstream media who have been pushing these standards without even studying them.

Common Chaos

By now we have all heard the claims that Common Core “State” Standards (CCSS) purport to achieve for our children. Advocates of CCSS have been quick to insult the opposition, accusing them of being conspiracy theorists, tea party affiliates, extremists, religious zealots, ineffective and irresponsible teachers, or political game players. But what if no evidence supports any of these accusations?

Teachers and parents have valid concerns with CCSS. We understand the connection of standards with standardized tests and curriculum. As teachers have been implementing these standards over the past two years, numerous concerns have surfaced. Educational leaders respond, “Stay the course,” with no modifications allowed. Their only remedy is more training and resources, neither of which addresses the actual concerns.

The recurring local and national concerns experienced with CCSS are:

  • Developmentally inappropriate standards K-2nd grades
  • Students unable to master the standards according to the proscribed pacing
  • Little time for mastery of basic math facts, with over-emphasis on visual math strategies
  • Too light on basic phonics, with over-emphasis on whole language
  • Parents alienated from helping children with their homework
  • Students exhibiting unnecessary, unhealthy levels of stress and frustration.
As professional educators we request:

  • Developmentally-appropriate high standards
  • Implementation of researched, tested and proven educational practices
  • A balanced approach to instruction (more phonics and basic math facts)
  • Math strategies and critical thinking skills to supplement, not replace, instruction
  • Flexibility to individualize instruction for individual students, and challenge students within a healthy stress zone
  • Acceptance of students’ uniqueness, rather than attempted standardization
  • More autonomy in developing lessons
  • The use of data to guide, not define, us
Our educational future is too important to blindly accept controversial, experimental education reform. Our children do not deserve to be treated as guinea pigs. If CCSS were as effective as claimed, why are they the center of national debate?

As professional educators, it would be irresponsible to NOT bring our concerns to public attention.

Teachers: Marla Baldwin, Calcasieu Parish
Deanna Russell, Beauregard Parish
Leslie Truax, Calcasieu Parish

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Common Core Standards were basically pushed on the education community without any input from those of us in the trenches. If anyone remembers when we use to write our school improvement plans we had to include researched based strategies. Where is the research to back up these standards? Is there any research out there that says by implementing these standards our children will perform any better? The request these educators make sure makes more sense than the Common core standards.