The Ogden Examiner covered the Utah GOP’s rejection of the Common Core at Saturday’s convention. But Utah’s main newspapers, the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, have not yet covered the story.
That lack of coverage speaks volumes.
Discussing Common Core is now akin to bringing up religion, sex or politics at family reunions. People have such varied, and intense, beliefs about it that it can get a little awkward.
WHAT DO TEACHERS WANT?
Almost whispering, a woman in my town came up to me this week and quietly said thank you. She said that she and the other educators are grateful for those who speak out. Most of those currently employed in schools don’t dare say anything against common core, fearing ridicule or job loss.
There are exceptions. David Cox is currently teaching; Margaret Wilkin, just retired; and others nationally have spoken out. And there’s even me. I’m also a currently credentialed teacher, but I’m homeschooling instead of sending my ten year old (and myself) into the schools of Common Core. Will the USSB renew my credential? Will schools hire me in the future when they know I disagree so strongly with the Common Core agenda? I wonder.
I spoke with a member of the Utah State School Board this week about teachers’ feelings about Common Core, asking if the board would be willing to create an official USOE anonymous survey for teachers like the one Utahns Against Common Core is doing, in order to receive honest, two-sided feedback about Common Core. The board member told me that would be pointless because “there are always teachers who are angry.” Those angry ones must not taken too seriously.
This makes me think that teachers need to make it clear to the USOE/USSB that the angry few are not the minority or the “always angry” types. I suggest that teachers write letters, anonymously if necessary, but often– and many. How else will the state leaders believe that there is a serious problem?
DEFINING COMMON CORE
Another reason there is a lack of coverage and discussion about the issue is that when we say “Common Core,” we don’t all think of the same thing.
Remember the story of the blind men describing the elephant? Each blind man reached out and touched the elephant, and were asked to describe it. One said it was like a tree trunk. One said it was like a wall. One said it was like a rope. All disagreed yet none was lying. The beast was just bigger and more complex than any of them realized.
Because different teachers teach at different grade levels, and different teachers teach different subjects (only some of which are affected by Common Core); and because some schools jumped on the Common Core implementation wagon fast, while others are slow; and because the Common Core tests don’t begin until this coming school year; and because the Common Core-aligned textbooks are for the most part, not yet purchased and not yet even printed, things look different in different places.
Then there’s the confusion outside the teachers’ arena; some people are aware of the political strings (such as the lack of an amendment process for common core standards; the copyright on CCSS, the 15% cap placed on it by the Dept of Education; and the lack of voter accountability to the groups who created the standards) –while many people are unaware, and say, “Common Core is just minimum standards.”
All of these various angles make it difficult to even speak about what Common Core is.
But we have to keep speaking about it.
MOVE– BEFORE THE CEMENT HARDENS
Common Core is not like past education reforms that are quickly altered and tossed away for another set of equally bureaucratic –but alterable– reforms.
This one’s going in cement. Two reasons:
1. The main architect for Common Core’s ELA standards, David Coleman, was given the position of College Board president, and is aligning college entrance exams (SAT) to Common Core. The ACT is said to be aligned as well. This fact alters our entire system of education in the country –and cannot be easily changed later.
2. There is a philosophical and curricular monopoly happening. The textbook industry is dominated by Pearson, the world’s largest education sales business. Pearson is officially partnered with Bill Gates, the world’s 2nd richest man, and the main funder of all things common core. The partnership is writing model common core curriculum (as are the testing consortia) to align all books, teacher trainings, and tests with the same standards. Meanwhile, 99% of all smaller textbook companies are also republishing all their books to align with Common Core because of this new monopoly on what academic standards ought to cover (or what they ought to skip).
We need more states, more private schools, and more textbook companies to stand independent of this outrageous, baseless monopoly. Otherwise, there will soon be no alternatives, no freedom of choice, no ability to soar above the common –for any of us.
We need alternatives to a common alignment with corporate monopolies and one college exam standard.
I hope the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News decide to cover this issue fully, rather than worrying about what the Governor, State School Board, and Prosperity 2020 businesses want them to do.
People deserve to hear the full story, thoroughly covered. It’s not unimportant:
We are reclaiming the local ability to determine what we will teach our kids.