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Here It Is: The NPE Common Core Panel Video

March 6, 2014

I plan to write a reflection on my NPE Common Core panel experience. However, allow me to first post this 40-minute video, which, I am guessing, includes each panelists’ opening remarks prior to the 30-minute question and answer segment.


Each panelist was afforded seven minutes to speak, in the following order: AFT President Randi Weingarten speaks first; then, University of Chicago Lab Schools History Instructor Paul Horton. Third to speak is “Teacher-Turned-Activist” Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin; then me (Mercedes Schneider). Fifth is “Educator, Writer, Activist, and Father” Jose Luis Vilson. The segment ends with a five-minute speech by Randi Weingarten. (It was my suggestion that Weingarten be allowed a second opportunity to speak since no one else on the panel would be on her side regarding Common Core. Common Core Panel Moderator Anthony Cody and the remainder of the panel agreed that this would be fair.)

  1. Thanks so much for posting this

  2. Laura h. Chapman permalink

    Watched the video last night. I think Randi is in a no-win environment. I think she was reaching hard for a link between a common core of values for American public education and the Common Core monster(s) detroying it.
    I am a fan of Mollie Ivins and Ann Richards along with the vivid imagery of Edudora Welty. Your voice is resonating in the same powerful way..

  3. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Best comment and summary:
    “Who asked you?”

  4. Christine permalink

    Dear Mercedes:

    I am the parent of two public school children. Since you correspond with Ms. Weingarten, maybe she’ll read this if you share it with her.

    I serve on a School Action Team (SAT) at my younger child’s elementary school (k-5), which discusses issues of family engagement to advance student achievement–starting to hate that word– with the principal.

    In that role, I speak to parents all the time about how their children are doing.
    I can tell you that questions about the appropriateness of CC standards are not limited to the years k-2 or k- 3 (although I am grateful that those terribly destructive flaws in standards are being recognized.)

    In our district, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade parents are now flooding local private schools with applications and considering homeschooling (this should make the voucher proponents happy.)

    Last week a parent was telling me about the difficulties the 4th grade child has been having with reading.

    This child has no learning issues, is from a more socially advantaged background with engaged parents, and has never had a reading problem. Suddenly, the child is not reading “on grade level” and all “the strategies” used to pull the child up to level have not been working.

    The parent had serious fears for the child’s abilities, and the child was feeling like a failure.

    I told the parent that the child was now being expected to read at a level 2 to 3 years above actual grade level. In fact, there was nothing wrong with this 4th grader, other than that the student was not performing like a 7th grader.

    I believe that standards that judge a child a failure for not being years ahead have to be wrong.

    I could give you a list because this has been going on all year–the third grader who has decided girls are just no good at math, the pack of fourth graders who hate school, the enumerable math assignments that have kept parents emailing all evening because no one could do them, homework that stretches on to two hours a night, the numbers of perfectly normal, good students spending time in 3-5 grade in tutoring.

    When Randi Weingarten asked, how do you get to the point of [changing the current reformy system] so that teachers have professional respect? I had an answer: Reclaim the Ground.

    You join with parents and you look to the kids.
    You point out where these standards are unfairly judging and sorting kids by developmentally inappropriate measures that many are just not ready to meet.
    You show how damaging that kind of unfair judgment is.
    National standards may be a great goal–but these misaligned CCSS are not.
    They crush the soul by redefining all kids into some mini-adult-uber-scholar, and then labeling them failures for just being who they are.

    I’ve been watching what’s happening in NY, and I’m not so convinced that all those tested kids flunked just b/c Commissioner King set the cut score too high–although that may have sealed the deal. I think the game is rigged from the inside, too. If the CC standards are developmentally inappropriate, they will automatically generate high test failure. (And they’ll keep doing that as the kids come up and move through the new system.)

    The mistake the unions made, in my humble opinion, is not pointing all this out from the start.

    Instead, ALEC and Gates and Duncan and the NGA and CSSO and Coleman and Achieve and SAP led the way.

    Parents have been told their countless lies that make the standards sound like they were conscientiously and carefully developed by educators for the good of the children and the nation.

    And my favorite, which I hear all the time at school, “THE KIDS CAN DO IT. WE CAN GET THEM THERE. THEY CAN DO MORE.”

    AND my other favorite, “EVERYONE is behind them! THE Standards have to be GOOD! “They wouldn’t have given them to us if they weren’t!!”

    The AFT and NEA need to take a hard look at these standards as THEY ARE REALLY MEANT to be applied–NO SOFTENING. (In the classrooms where the teacher serves as buffer, you can’t tell how bad how they can be. I think this is also part of the problem, teachers think they can fix everything on the ground.)

    AND then you need to re-educate everyone and get these thrown out.
    If we want National Standards as guidelines, let the educators and childhood developmental specialists lead the way and create them.

    Get the committee going and I’ll send in a pledge to Ms. Weingarten to help pay for it. We can run a “Let’s bring back the love of learning fundraiser.” I’ll bring a check and the muffins.

    ps: I’m in a state that already had high standards and some of the nation’s best schools.
    pss: You can refuse the testing, too!

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  1. FL Common Core: A Schneider Debriefing on Weingarten | Dr. Rich Swier

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