Peter Greene: Why Teachers are Breaking Up with Common Core
Pennsylvania teacher Peter Greene has written a fine post on why he believes that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are going down the toilet in supposed “teacher popularity.”
What I appreciate about Greene’s post is that he became aware of the CCSS facade of “teacher created, state-led” several months following my own revelation (which was sealed with education historian Diane Ravitch’s February 2013 post, Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards). Now, several months might not sound like much of a time difference, but I had already been actively involved in confronting issues of punitive, test-driven “reform” in Louisiana for almost a year, beginning in March 2012 with Louisiana’s Act 1 and Act 2. So, in May 2013, when Greene was still unaware of the CCSS fraud, my pump had already been primed regarding the CCSS sales job, and my realizing that teachers were once again being sold off– now via CCSS– was a done deal for sure by the time I began examining supposed CCSS-teacher-endorsing survey results beginning with the suspect AFT survey “finding” of “75 percent of teachers overwhelmingly approving of CCSS” (see this link and this link and this link— all written in May 2013).
Even in this spring 2013 survey, the truth was that teachers did not “overwhelmingly” support CCSS. They did so with reservation– a finding that continues to be slighted in 2014 survey reporting on CCSS regarding both teacher and general public opinion.
In any case, Greene’s post entitled How the Common Core Lost Teacher Support is a fine read. I offer part of it here and the link to Greene’s Huffington Post printing at the end of the excerpt:
Support for the Core among teachers dropped like a stone, from 76% in 2013 to 46% in 2014. That’s a lot of love lost. Now, as we move from the “Holy schneikies!” phase into the “Got some splainin’ to do” phase, we’ll start to ask the big question.
Over at The Fordham, Mike Petrilli hopes he knows why — Note the phrase, “they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.” Perhaps these words triggered the more negative response. I think Petrilli is hoping in vain. I think there’s a much more likely explanation for CCSS’s bad year among teachers.
Let’s think back to May of 2013. Personally, I’m a fine example of what teachers were like at that point. I didn’t know a lot about the Core, and what I did know didn’t sound all that bad. As far as I’d heard, a bunch of important people had called together a bunch of teachers to write some standards that could be used across the country to bring a little coherence to the higgledy-piggledy crazy-quilt that is US education. I’m not really a fan of national standards, but as long as they came from educational experts and were largely voluntary, it couldn’t hurt to look at them. Heck, if you had asked me in May of 2013 if I supported the Common Core standards, I might very well have said yes. And though there were teachers out there who had already caught on, there were plenty of teachers like me who were perfectly willing to give the whole business a shot.
So how did the reformsters lose all those hearts and minds?
I think it’s a measure of how detailed and painstaking and inch-by-inch this massive debate has been that it’s easy to lose track of the big picture, the many massively boneheaded things that CCSS supporters did along the way. Let’s reminisce about how so many teachers were turned off.
Remember how supporters of the Core used to tell us all the time that these standards were written by teachers? All. The. Time. Do you know why they’ve stopped saying that? Because it’s not true, and at this point, most everybody knows it’s not true. The “significant” teacher input, the basis in solid research — all false. When someone is trying to sell you medicine and they tell you that it was developed by top doctors and researchers and you find out it wasn’t and they have to switch to, “Well, it was developed by some guys who are really interested in mediciney stuff who once were in a doctor’s office” — it just reduces your faith in the product.
In many places, it took a while for it to sink in — “You mean we’re not actually allowed to change ANY of it, and we can only add 15%??!!”
It quickly became clear — this was not a reform where we would all sit around a table at our own schools and decide how to best to adapt and implement to suit our own students. Session by session, we were sent off to trainings where some combination of state bureaucrats and hired consultants would tell us how it was going to be. We were not being sent off to discuss or contribute our own professional expertise; we were being sent to get our marching orders, which very often even our own administrators were not “important” enough to give us (or understand).
Particularly in the latter half of 2013, we all heard this a lot. Phrased in diplomatic language, of course, but on the state and federal level we were told repeatedly that this was not a discussion, that our input was neither needed nor wanted, and that if were going to raise any sorts of questions, we should just forget about it.
This was particularly true for public schools. After all, the narrative went, public schools were failing and covering it up by lying to students and their parents about how well they were doing. It became increasingly clear that the Common Core were not meant to help us, but to rescue America’s children from us. “Just shut up and sit down,” said CCSS boosters with a sneer. “You’ve done enough damage already.”
Arne Duncan told newspaper editors to paint core opponents as misguided and misinformed. Then he portrayed objectors as whiny white suburban moms. Opposition to CCSS was repeatedly portrayed as coming strictly from the tin hat wing of the Tea Party. If you opened your mouth to say something bad about the Core, you were immediately tagged a right-wing crank. There was no recognition that any complaint about any portion of the Core could possibly be legitimate. It had to be politically motivated or the result of ignorance.
To read the rest (well worth your time), follow this link:
Want to know more about those exploiting public education? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education
NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE.