Archive for the ‘empowering teachers’ Tag

Letter From Alpine School Board Member to Teachers on Common Core Opposition   3 comments

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Reblogged from Wendy Hart’s blog here.

Alpine School Board member Wendy Hart had an interview with the Teachers’ Association to determine if they would be endorsing her re-election.  After that meeting, she wrote this blog post, an open letter to the teachers in her school district.  Here’s a portion:

For Teachers Only

“…As an employee, perhaps you can’t speak out if you find things amiss.  It’s your job; you have to do it.  It’s the same with my job.  Sometimes you just have to put a smile on your face and do what needs to be done whether you agree with it or not.  I completely understand that.  Do I wish it weren’t the case?  Yes. But I acknowledge the reality of it. Elected officials, however, are elected for a reason. We can’t be fired or lose our jobs for speaking out, except at the hands of voters. If anyone is going to stand up for teachers against a program that isn’t good, it must be the elected officials.  And every new change, program or implementation that comes along really should be debated, discussed and vetted all the way along the line, especially at the local level. Let’s take something we probably agree on: teacher evaluations being tied to SAGE testing.  This is wrong.  I’ve said so.  I will continue to say so.  It, too, is state law.  We have to do it.  But it’s horribly wrong.  Placing so much of a teacher’s evaluation and thus, his/her livelihood on a single (pilot) test is absolutely the worst use of a standardized test.  Like the Common Core, should we just go along with it and be supportive?  I know you all will do the best you can, trying not to focus overly much on the test and still teach as professionals, but it’s got to weigh you down.  The direction we are doing is that once all education and all educators are evaluated on a single test, funding will follow.  It’s nice and simple, but still wrong.  I can’t sit by and be supportive.  I have to find a way to scream from the rooftops that this can’t work, and that it gives way too much authority to the test makers over teachers, over local boards, over  HOW standards are taught in the classroom.

Let me give you an example.  Several years ago, my son had a phenomenal teacher.  He LOVED class, loved her lessons, enjoyed nearly every moment.  He learned a lot and enjoyed it.  She even expressed appreciation that he had shushed the rest of the class one time because he wanted to learn what she had to teach.  Do you think I cared what he got on the CRT’s that year?  Nope.  I don’t think I even looked at them.  He had a wonderful year with a wonderful teacher.  That was worth more to me (and to him) than any standardized test score.  And I am afraid that, despite her best efforts, that love and that thrill of teaching will be reduced to making sure she can keep her job by getting higher test scores.  (Note: She was/is his favorite.  But he’s had many, many others who were just as wonderful, just as dedicated, and just as appreciated.)  I don’t choose and evaluate my kids’ teachers by their test scores. So, back to Common Core.  It is top-down, which violates the principle of local control.

A little bit of local control isn’t local control.  And just to be clear, my opposition isn’t just with the standards. The Common Core standards come in a nice little package along with tying test scores to teacher evaluations, courtesy of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver.  The other two parts of that package are 1) a longitudinal database on students and teachers and 2) “improving” low-performing schools (determined by the test scores and “improved” by shutting them down and bringing in private enterprises, and redistributing successful teachers to these “failing” schools).  The entire package is flawed, and it’s flawed on principle.  You, as a teacher, need to be able to have the freedom to connect with your students–the freedom to do what you know is best, regardless of where the student falls on the ‘testing’ rubric.

The Common Core Standards are just one tree in that forest of standardizing everything: tests, schools, teachers, curriculum. Already, there are calls to use the copyright of the Common Core standards to ‘certify’ curriculum.  And, in the end, if your wonderful lesson plan doesn’t deliver the results on the test (even if it delivers the results you, your students, and your students’ parents want), it won’t be around for very much longer.

You got into teaching because you love kids, and you wanted to be able to affect their lives for the better through education. You have natural talents and professional training on how to make that human-to-human connection that makes teachers irreplaceable. We need more of the individual attention you provide. Common Core, with its associated numbers-driven, top-down, accountability to the state, not parents, can only take education in the wrong direction. The Common Core standards, and the rest of the NCLB Waiver package, will reduce teachers to standards-implementers, test-preppers, and data points. I realize this is your job, and you have to make the best of whatever is presented to you.  But that is why we have school boards and a political process.  It is my job to fight against policies that interfere with the parent-child-teacher partnership. I am happy to do this job. I hope you will understand that my opposition to Common Core and its “package” is to support you as the professional you are. Our community must stand strong and eliminate all obstacles that stand in the way of you doing your job and realizing the highest aspirations that originally brought you into education.

You may not be able to do it, but I should.”

IN Scott Schneider: Why This State Senator Opposes Common Core   Leave a comment

Reposted from:

http://hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com/senator-scott-schneiders-nuvo-article-on-common-core/

http://www.nuvo.net/PerspectivesinEducation/archives/2013/01/17/perspectives-in-education-scott-schneider#.UPw1hKUYHe4

 

Perspectives in Education: Scott Schneider

Posted by on Thu, Jan 17, 2013

Confronting the Common Core Standards

By Indiana State Sen. Scott Schneider

The Common Core Standards (CCS) were developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO) and written by a Washington, DC non-profit called Achieve. The new standards dictate what will be taught in English and math for grades K-12.

Indiana educators had little to no input in the writing of these standards as evidenced by the list of contributors released by the developers.

Many Hoosiers, including myself, are concerned that adopting the CCS was a significant step backward from the nationally recognized education standards Indiana previously had in English and math. I am worried that CCS was pushed on Indiana without proper review of what it will mean for students and teachers, which is the impetus for Senate Bill 0193, which would prevent the Indiana State Board of Education from using any educational standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Proponents of the Common Core Standards which are being implemented in 2012-2014 for English and math promised to use international benchmarks. Indiana’s former standards used this standard, but Common Core has not met this qualification.

Experts testified that CCS documents point to no country or region as the comparison country. In fact, members of the standards validation committee repeatedly asked for evidence of international benchmarking and received nothing. Therefore, five members of this committee refused to sign off on the CCS.

More than 500 people attended a Jan. 16 Senate Education Committee hearing on my bill. The committee will vote to send it to the full Senate as early as next Wednesday, Jan. 23.

While the education system in Indiana may not be perfect, solutions should come from the teachers and parents involved in the daily activities of educating our children.

But under new CCS rules, Indiana cannot change or delete any of the standards because they are copyrighted by the developers the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers.

Historically, Indiana held sole control over our student test (I-STEP). Now, a consortium of 22 states, of which Indiana is a member, is developing a new measuring stick for students and teachers called thePartnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

While the new CCS agreements allows states to add some material to the standards, this information would not be covered on the new PARCC test, which determines adherence to the CCS. In the world of high-stakes testing, I find it unlikely that anything that is not tested would be taught.

Little is known about what this test will look like and how it will be scored, yet its influence is evident as teachers and school districts are under tremendous pressure to meet performance standards.

The current state of education has many people feeling left out of the decision-making process. With the adoption of the CCS, distance grows between teachers, parents and local education policy makers. The topdown, centralized approach of the CCS does not allow for the voices of teachers and parents to influence decisions; this dynamic also fuels frustrations among parents and teachers about the influence of highstakes testing.

Because of the Common Core Initiative, there are now 22 states deciding how we test Indiana students, what cut scores will be, how we define students with disabilities, etc. The loss of power is enormous. Indiana elects her Superintendent of Education for a reason, so that decisions are made by someone we choose. We should never cede this control to any outside organizations.

When academic standards and high-stakes testing are no longer in the hands of the people of Indiana, we lose control over the important policies to which students and teachers are held accountable.

Improvements in our schools will only come through the local efforts of Hoosiers in the field; any measure that removes them from the decision-making process is wrong.

State Senator Scott Schneider is a Republican from Indianapolis. First elected to the State Senate in 2009, Schneider is a former member of the Indianapolis-Marion County City County Council. He is a board member for the Indiana Schools for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the recipient of School Choice Indiana’s 2012 Charter School Warrior of the Year Award.

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Many thanks to Senator Schneider and to Hoosiers Against Common Core.

 

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