Thursday, December 12, 2013

Searching for Teacher Zero

The latest Anthony Cody blog, which makes good use of the work of the indispensable Mercedes Schneider, shows just how far we've come in piecing together an accurate picture of how the Common Core came to be. But it comes in response to (and attracts comments from) a chorus of backlash-backlash writers out there who are making renewed efforts to counter the criticism of CCSS with some favorite old refrains.

Chief among them is the origin story that David Coleman was bitten by a radioactive scantron-- no, wait. Wrong story. The argument that we're hearing is that yes, indeedy, a room full of Really Smart People and Actual Teachers of School sat down and created the CCSS.

The technique proponents use to make their case is what trained rhetorical artistes call "Insisting Real Hard." One would think that such fans of CCSS would turn to some text-based evidence, or some of those "facts" that often come into play when you're doing that there "critical thinking." But no-- we just get the same repeated insistence that critics are being meanies, and of course there were teachers writing the CCSS cuz we say so and just trust us rich and powerful people wouldn't lie.

This is not really getting them anywhere, which is sad for them because, really, it would take just one press release for them to win their argument. Just one simple new story would force those of us complaining from the cheap seats to sit down and shut up. But for some reason, CCSS backers have not taken the time to write that story. So in the interests of fairness, I've written it for them. All they have to do is fill in some blanks. Since I don't have a name for the subject of the article, we'll just call him Teacher Zero.

"Yes, I was there," said Teacher Zero. "I helped write the Common Core standards for reading."
We sat down with an interview with Teacher Zero in [insert location] at a coffee shop just down the street from where he teaches English at [insert name] High School. He seemed eager to talk to us and clear up some of the misconceptions about Common Core standards.

"I was just into my twentieth year of classroom teaching," he said. "I was looking for a way to advance the profession, when I got a call from the governor, asking me to serve on the committee. It was hard work. We had many meetings at the [location] to pore through research about best practices. We were particularly influenced by the research of [insert names here]."

"After much research and preparation, the day came." said Teacher Zero. "My colleagues and I went into a conference room and started to draft the standards from scratch. I can't say enough about the work of [insert name] from [name] High School, [name] from [name] Elementary School in [location], and [add list of teachers' names and their schools]. We also benefited a lot from the work of Child Development Expert [insert name]."

We asked him if there were any standards that he was particularly proud of. He smiled thoughtfully. "I feel real ownership of all the standards, but I really think the way we handled [insert specific standard] and the way it allows [some sort of educational jargon which can ne translated for the general reader]. And I think all of it feels close to our hearts because as our many conversations unfolded, we were able to distill what was essential and important about the way we, as real teachers, really teach."

"Not that I think all teachers should teach just like me. That would be stupid. But as real working teachers with decades of classroom experience, we were really able to talk about the sorts of standards that would make sense to us and to our students."

"I look forward to traveling around the country and talking to teachers as they try to implement these standards. And I want to thank the governors for their support and trust in us and letting us have such an instrumental voice in developing the standards. Even the people from the publishing and testing companies just stood back and said, 'No, you guys are the experts. We're just here to learn.'"

The day that article runs is the day that many of us who take issue with the CCSS will have to shut up about its origins. If what the mythmakers say is true, this article should be a piece of cake. Just find Teacher Zero and his colleagues, take down the names and information, and just plug it in.

I expect we'll be seeing it in the paper tomorrow. No need to thank me.

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