Ed McKeon is a member of the Middletown Board of Education. The following letter to the editor was published in the Middletown Press and related papers. (See: http://www.middletownpress.com/opinion/20140327/ed-mckeon-how-can-we-tell-if-were-moving-forward-if-our-eyes-are-closed.)
It is another “MUST READ” for the students, parents, teachers and public school advocates fighting to take by out public education system.
How can we tell if we’re moving forward if our eyes are closed? (by Ed McKeon)
Tuesday’s editorial in the Register chain claims that delaying implementation of the Common Core standards would be a step backwards. Considering that the editorial offers no substantiation about what Common Core will accomplish, it’s nothing more than an uninformed suggestion.
The reason the editorial writers, and Common Core supporters themselves, aren’t able to offer evidence that Common Core standards will somehow miraculously raise the achievement levels of American students is that there is no evidence.
Common Core standards were written in secrecy and in a vacuum. These standards have never been used, or tested anywhere.
The authors of Common Core were largely business leaders and textbook and test manufacturers. In fact, two of the most credible, and the only student-learning experts of the Common Core Validation Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky (Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas and the author of the Massachusetts k-12 academic standards) and Dr. James Milgram (Professor Emeritus Stanford University) refused to sign off on the standards. They were outvoted by other members of a committee, many of whom were associates of testing companies.
And the secrecy prevails. Members of the Common Core committees were asked to sign non-disclosure statements, so that the deliberations were not, and are not, open to public inspection or deliberation.
The Register editorial was correct in saying that information about Common Core was unavailable early on, and incomplete or confusing when it finally was released. The Connecticut Department of Education website only became available last month, nearly four years after the state signed onto standards.
The editorial also hints that the backlash to Common Core is some kind of conspiracy fueled by political fury, and fanned by misinformation.
As much as it hurts me to be on the same side of an argument as Glenn Beck, the truth is that the backlash comes as a result of teachers, administrators, students and parents finally getting their hands on the standards, and the testing materials, textbooks and teacher evaluations that go hand-in-hand with Common Core. The backlash comes not from the right, or the left, or Republicans, it comes from teachers, parents and taxpayers who are really concerned that they are being sold a bill of goods.
Before any of us blithely accept the notion that the Common Core rollout continue unabated consider the following:
Common Core is an industry. Advocates will repeat the mantra over and over: “Common Core is not curriculum. It’s a set of standards.” What they won’t admit to is that most school districts do not have the luxury or the money to design custom curricula, create custom learning materials or formulate testing which would be accepted by the national standard-bearers. So, schools will have to pay for off-the-shelf curricula, text books, technology, learning materials and tests. Common Core is not just a set of standards, it’s everything that goes with it.
Common Core, for all it’s demands as an evidence-based system, offers no evidence of it’s efficacy. Common Core has not been vetted, tested, benchmarked, offered for academic review or scrutiny. It has been shoved down the throats of state educators who understood that if you didn’t swallow hard and accept the standards, you were less likely to receive federal dollars. Connecticut has received no Federal Race to the Top Dollars as a result of accepting the standards.
Common Core is going to make some people very, very rich. Because of the demands of the new standards, all new teaching and testing material will have to be created, and then purchased by hard-pressed school districts. But in the process, textbook publishers, test-manufacturers, technology creators are going to make lots of money. What’s more, because Common Core is predicted to show that most public schools are below standard, the Charter School industry, which is working hard to privatize public education, will be working diligently to pry public education dollars from the public schools where those dollars belong.
Common Core, like many state mandates, has not been fully funded. Much of the expense of paying for Common Core, and the tests and materials it has spawned will fall upon the shoulders of city taxpayers. As usual, the state and federal government comes up with a brilliant idea, and expects us to pick up the tab,
We respectfully ask that any editorial writer suggesting that Common Core is the cure for all the problems of public education, spend a few hours trying to figure out what Common Core is, and alleges to do, and then spend another day or two standing in a classroom next to a public school teacher.