"These grants are about giving educators some seed money to take their ideas about educational standards and convert them into practice. Many educators support higher standards but are concerned about particular aspects, especially the Common Core standards' poor implementation and their developmental appropriateness, particularly in the early grades," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "We wanted to give the people closest to children a chance to do something different, as long as we were all focused on how to help students secure the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that the Common Core standards are supposed to be about."
1) "seed money to take their ideas about educational standards and convert them into practice"
In other words, do our jobs. Like we do every day. Only now, somehow, in the brave new CCSS world, we need grant money and the permission that goes with it to do it. And this is apparently a new thing? Because I'm pretty sure that educators were busily doing this, and doing it well, before the Core came along and teachers were told they had to drop what they were doing and get aligned to the
2) "Many educators support higher standards but are concerned about particular aspects, especially the Common Core standards' poor implementation..."
I see what you did there. You treated "higher standards" and "Common Core" as if they were synonyms. Of course, we know from no less an authority that the Fordham Institute that in many states the Core are not higher standards at all. Personally, I'd argue that they aren't higher standards than much of anything, nor do we have a lick of research to back up the claim that they are.
3) "their developmental appropriateness"
Well, yes. But let's not just lump that in with rollout problems, or pretend that it doesn't call into question the whole "higher standards" thing. When you ask a fish to fly and it says it can't, the appropriate response is not, "Oh, well I'm sorry that you can't handle something so much better than swimming." (Also, you are completely overlooking the miracle of a talking fish).
The implication here, as in many places, is that developmental inappropriateness is a function of asking children to do things that are too awesome for them. It hints that somehow they're tiny little minds just aren't up to it, that they are still suffering from some sort of deficit. That's not it. What it really means is that you have designed a task that is wrong for that person. The tiny person is not at fault. You are. And that's not because you just raised the standards too high. It's because you made a stupid request.
4) "We wanted to give the people closest to children a chance to do something different"
Different from what? Because we were all trying to do different things before folks came along with the one size fits all Common Core.
5) "as long as we were all focused on how to help students secure the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that the Common Core standards are supposed to be about."
Is that what the Core are supposed to be about? Are you seriously suggesting that we need the Core to incorporate critical thinking and problem solving in classrooms? An organization that represents a nation of teachers is implicitly agreeing here with the idea that teachers never really did know how to do their jobs until the Blessed Core came to rescue us.
That's the narrative, the one that I don't much care for. Once upon a time, America's schools were struggling and failing because teachers just didn't know how to teach any more. So some wise men devised a set of higher standards that would teach students how to read and write and think like never before. Now, with standards this ambitious, some bumps and hiccups could be expected, but those were just implementation issues and not in any way indicative of fundamental flaws in the Core.
It continues to irritate me no end that the two major unions accept and promote a narrative predicated on the idea that their own members are lost, clueless, maybe lazy, possibly incompetent, but definitely in need of someone (like maybe rich and powerful amateurs) to come show them the way. I can tolerate that story from the amateurs. But union leaders should know better. Union leaders may need to play some politics- I accept that. But I don't accept union leaders hanging their heads and saying, "Yeah, our guys really don't know what they're doing. They need help."
So the grant idea? Throwing around money is always swell, but the fact that it's attached to that same old narrative reduces the swellness considerably.