by an anonymous Utah student teacher
Last semester I worked in a first grade classroom as part of a class I was I was taking at Utah Valley University. The teacher said she could do more teaching if she didn’t have to do so much Common Core testing, so she had me do the testing. These children have 4 packets, 20-25 pages each, they have to get through during the year. Part of this is a list of 100 words, 400 for the year, they need to know by sight. As I was testing, one little boy he stopped and said, “I don’t like words. I don’t like reading. I don’t like books.”
My heart broke.
I went to our library here in town and checked out as many books as I could. I went back to school every day and pulled him out of class to read just one book to him. At first he was hesitant because he thought he was going to have to read to me. Eventually he relaxed and started enjoying. He got so he would even turn the pages on occasion. We read one book, “The Red Book,” which has no words in it. You make up the story yourself. When we finished I asked him if he’d rather read a book like this or would he rather have a book with the words already there.
He preferred a book with words in it. This went on for several weeks.
Then they had a reading competition in the classroom. On Friday whoever read the most books that week got to wear the pirate hat. I came in one Friday and he was wearing the pirate hat.
I was thrilled.
Since then it has occurred to me that I should talk to the principal. How would he feel if someone came into his office and tested him regularly, and often, to see whether he is making any progress, getting everything done that he should do, etc.? He would probably quit his job if he was under such testing regulations, and still they put these little kids through all this stress.
This teacher has eighteen students. Within a week I could tell which six children were working above grade level, which 6 children were working at grade level, and which 6 children were working below grade level. This was simply from my observations, not from any testing I was doing. Six children took the assignments and whizzed through them. Six children took the assignments and worked through them, but eventually they got there. Six children got very little of the assignments done without help, and in some cases a lot of help. Obviously, Common Core upsets me. I’m sure there is some good there, and there are good intentions, but they are way off base.
Dear Common Core English Standards: Can we talk? – Here’s the link to the latest, greatest takedown of Common Core English Language Arts Standards, by an English teacher. Classic!
Utahns Against Common Core receives notes from parents and teachers on a regular basis. Here is a heartbreaking message from an anonymous teacher in Canyons District:
“We are currently gearing up for our new educator evaluation system called CTESS. Today I was reading through the evaluation and of the 12 standards 3 require you to show that you are supportive of and actively teaching the “Utah Core Standard”, otherwise known as “Common Core.” This is why teachers are afraid to speak out. I really am fearful for my job. There have been times when I have wanted to speak up, like recently when attending a district meeting and Common Core came up. The comment was made by a district official that those who were against Common Core were “kooks.” This is the environment teachers have to work in. If you disagree, you have no place to turn. I am ready to find another career and get out.”
This Utah teacher is the dedicated, experienced and compassionate kind we all want for our children. She has a genuine passion for teaching and a sincere interest in the growth of each unique student. What makes her even more special is her willingness to voice concerns about current education reforms –in spite of the negative consequences she has already and will continue to face as a result. She is not willing to say things are perfect or working well when she can see they are not.
The specifics she shares in this video, about how her teaching has been affected and particularly about the professional development, offer insights I hadn’t heard before.
Agree or disagree, can any policy be so perfect to be above discussion or dissent?
Let’s help her voice be heard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq2uNDxHoMA
This letter was sent this week from a Los Angeles teacher to Donna Garner, an education news writer.
It is published here with permission, but without the name of the teacher.
I’ve been following your emails regarding Common Core, and the situation certainly is not pretty. Thanks a million for all you do. Many of my liberal friends are no longer liberals. They’re being screwed, and now they know it. We teachers had a meeting with the man who is basically in charge of all school programming, and it isn’t pretty. He’s leaving since they want him to reapply for a job; but he knows his job is being cut. He will be gone. More on that in a minute –
Hopefully Common Core can be neutered. I heard that 35 states have legislation to either restrict or eliminate Common Core. WOW!
Most of our math teachers are puzzled themselves by what they have seen in CC.
Our dept. chair (who is a vocal liberal and was a proponent of CC) came back from a district-wide meeting. He said the entire CC plan was so illogical that his hands were literally shaking after the meeting was over.
I personally don’t think we have seen the worst of CC as of yet, just a mild prelude. That’s why it needs to be eliminated and right now! Anyway, thanks ever so much for the emails and updates. I share them with my fellow teachers.
I learned today that LAUSD is eliminating the Special Ed. dept. altogether. I have no idea what they are doing, but it sounds crazy.
Our staff was asked to “apply” for a new school daily operations plan, whereby we could hire our own principal and have a say in the day-to-day operations. That has all backfired as of today, and one of the teachers said she would sue if she has the option. They have made it a living hell for teachers.
LAUSD is also getting rid of all Advanced Placement teachers. They have to reapply to get a job – now teachers will be called “Instructional Advisors” instead of teachers. Welcome to the real Common Core. Welcome Facilitators. We are no longer to be considered teachers.
People don’t understand the forethought into Common Core and what the feds want to implement. I’ll work at Home Depot or Wal Mart if it gets me out of here “yesterday.”
I am leaving California and moving to Texas. I would have left this year but because of health problems, I could not afford to leave my insurance. However, I am in the process of trying to get my Texas teaching certificate… At first, the Texas assessments were only given in Texas, but now they are available in San Diego. I’ll try and take them, but…we’ll see. I used to be a salesman, and I can do that again. I will do anything to get out of LAUSD.
Donna, please keep letting people, teachers, and parents know what is going on in the schools here. If parents really knew, they would be utterly shocked. This is where the education is heading. Complete control by the Feds. They are doing it to the teachers right now, yet the unsuspecting public is like the proverbial “frog in boiling water.” It’s over with here!
Anyway, just thought I’d let you know where Common Core is going. We in LAUSD are at the forefront. I’m going to try and document as many of the changes as possible so that I can send it to you. Maybe you can use it to alert the rest of America.
Take care, Donna, and thanks for helping me see some of the CC stuff; the whole picture is clearly coming into view now. I hope Texas is a better place for me to live and teach.
Nothing real supports the outrageous, increasing, ongoing federal overtake of schools. Federal bluffing and federal pretense to education authority continues because it is upheld by the stupored, undefending millions of us who aren’t aware of our right to control education locally –and who do not defend it.
Two federal overtake moves stand out in my mind today as heart-stoppingly wrong. These are things that we should firmly, loudly oppose.
- The first is Secretary Arne Duncan’s mandatory preschool. In his “Statement for the Record” to Congress concerning the new education budget request, Duncan lay aside the former practice of calling federal preschool voluntary. In this recent (April 29, 2014) speech, Duncan called for mandatory preschool: “The third major priority in the 2015 request is to continue the President’s commitment to expanding educational opportunity for millions of children through a $75 billion mandatory Preschool for All program…” he said.
- The other is the Department of Education’s principals’ re-education program, aka “Principal Ambassador Fellowship” (PAF). Do you like the idea of federally-approved-and-groomed, model “Fellowship” principals, teaching your local principal how to “engage with” federal policies? Me neither.
From the Department of Education’s site, learn why the PAF program exists: —”principals should have meaningful opportunities to both contribute to and understand the [federal] policies” —”to implement needed reforms, all stakeholders… must understand the intent of [federal] policy…” —”PAF’s will spend time gaining greater knowledge of the content of key federal programs and policies…” — “Principal Ambassador Fellows (PAF) are hired.. to facilitate cooperation between the Federal Government and the non-Federal entity…”
The Department of Education Secretary said, on the very same page where he announced the PAF program, that “The best ideas in education will never come from me or anyone else in Washington, D.C. They’re always going to come from a local level.” Yet principals are also told to understand and engage with federal policies. Such doublespeak. It is pretty unlikely that principals lack or need “greater knowledge” of the federal agenda. Given the increasing number of examples of defenders, notably schools like Maesar Prep in Utah, superintendents like Joseph Rella in New York, or the example of the state of Washington, which recently refused to tie teacher evaluation to Common Core student testing and got punished by Arne Duncan’s yanking of the state’s NCLB waiver– given these examples, it is more likely that principals are showing signs of resistance to the federal standardizations being shoved down their throats. Good for them.