This video of a young man from Tennessee speaking on the topic of Common Core State Standards as been hopping around, and I linked it the other day myself on Facebook. He passionately defends his own education and his beloved teachers, from what, exactly, I am not clear yet, and should make it my business to find out. Was this meeting called to speak out against “merit” pay? Is the issue the (constant) assessment of students? (This year alone we’ve had seven instructional class periods of testing in my content area, not including the PLC common assessment our department created, adding about three more days to the mix: I hesitate to include this because this pre-and post assessment has been extremely valuable in informing instruction). Perhaps it is to simply protest their thoughts on the means by which the CCSS came to be, and a caution to beware on its proponents and their agendas. I too believed it was a consortium of states banding together in response to NCLB, and according to this young man, that was not the case.
And before I go any further, let me be clear: I have no issue with the CCSS. Truly. For Language Arts, the verbage gets a little messy and paradoxically esoteric, but that’s okay, because Language Arts can be messy (and paradoxically esoteric): teaching students how to engage in dialogue, discourse, and “accountable” talk is an imperfect and sometimes painful process. There is no data point for a student who vehemently disagrees with something and is trying to get her point across. Creating a rubric for passionate beliefs doesn’t always work so well.
The “framing effect” may be in play here: the framing effect is how a situation is presented to manipulate choice and decision making. Let’s think about the term “merit” pay. By definition, merit is a positive trait or ability desired. When the CCSS, assessments, and merit pay are framed by those powers who benefit and profit, it takes on this tone of “If you were a good teacher and doing nothing wrong then you wouldn’t be bothered by this.” We feel guilty, and dangerously doubtful when, put to us that way, just what the heck is our beef with CCSS and assessing students? Don’t we want them to do well? Don’t we want all students to achieve and go to college? We meekly answer of course! We all want what’s best for students! What I continue to have an issue with, and will continue to fight against, is the mountains of money that line the pockets of ‘educational carpet baggers’ if you will. Those folks who profit from an $8 per students test, or sell a district millions of dollars of program after program that are all supposedly ‘research based and aligned.’ This alignment seems to go off the rails pretty darn quickly.
American teachers and students are constantly being compared to other nations, and the other nations’ children are saying it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When trying to synthesize my own self-doubt, of ‘just what is my problem?!” I am desperately trying to synthesize all the pieces so I ensure I am advocating appropriately and correctly. It is reasonable and logical to expect students to show growth in their knowledge. It s reasonable and logical to expect teachers to continue to hone their professional mastery. What I don’t want to happen is continued waste of time and money without clear vision. That is one data point I can stand behind. The PLC work is simple: what do we want kids to know, how are we going to teach it, and what are we prepared to do when they don’t?
I’d like to also add, what are we going to do when they do get it?