Thursday, January 21, 2016

More Common Core Business Panic

High Achievement New York, a group of Gates-funded Common Core pushing business types, is back in the new chicken littling the hell out of rejecting the Core.

This time they've managed to get Crain's New York business magazine to pass along their terrified concerns! "Oh nos!" they declaim. "If states try to replace the Core, there will be a big expensive debacle."

“Chaos ensued in both Indiana and Oklahoma after repealing the standards, creating a nightmarish situation for confused teachers and lowering the bar for students,” it claimed, adding that Indiana students now spend 12 hours per year taking standardized tests, up from six previously.

Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria. Run away! Run away!

You can read the report here (at least for now) in its fourteen-page glory. It depends on all the same old baloney that HANY and other Core-pushers have been repeating. Heck, HANY tried this same alarm-raising back in October, 2014.

This report (Much Ado: The Cost and Chaos of Replacing Common Core) seems aimed primarily at New York State, and they claim that there are five lessons for the Empire State based on, well, something.

1. Trying to “repeal” or substantially “replace” Common Core standards would be a waste
2. New “New York” standards must be as or more rigorous than Common Core standards
3. The review process needs to be driven by the State Education Department
4. Classroom teachers must be the driving voices in any revisions; and
5. A new name matters.

Lets look at these.

1. No reason to believe that's true. It would certainly cut into a lot of folks profit margin, and with companies like Pearson laying off 4,000 workers, I'm sure that lost revenue is a concern in some board rooms. But I think I speak for many people in education when I say that I'd rather make education decisions based on educational concerns, and not corporate bottom lines.

2. That should not be hard. The Common Core standards are not all that rigorous. In fact, the newest issue of the AASA Journal includes an article showing in detail how much below the old NJ standards CCSS actually falls. Was NY that much more rigorous and complex than NJ?

3. Well, yes. Since that department is run by lots of corporate shills, they would be the logical choice for making sure that the process watches out for the interests of businesses.

4. Oh, me! Pick me!! Okay, I'm not technically a New York teacher, but let me pick some NY teachers that I know to be a "driving voice," whatever the hell that means.

5. Yes, let's not forget that good branding help provide protective cover for replacing the old damned stupid thing with some brand new version of the same old damned stupid thing.

Once again, the Core-sters are crying, "Think of the teachers! The poor, confused teachers!" And you know what? Having to go through one more damned stupid paperwork change is hard as hell on teachers and classrooms. Of course, we could always change to a system that valued teachers' voices and gave them the freedom to use their professional judgment, instead of trying to switch one micro-managing one-size-fits-all system for another. That transition, to a teacher directed classroom, would be much easier to navigate.

Look, these guys have a point when they say that Indiana and Oklahoma spent a lot of money and caused a lot of chaos by switching to standards that were basically the Common Core pig with lipstick and a shave. But the painted pig is not the only alternative to CCSS-- there are, in fact, alternatives to a system in which teachers are reduced to glorified clerks in a content delivery system aimed at a bad test that is loosely aligned to bad standards.

The report quotes an Oklahoma 8th grade teacher:

How are you supposed to plan and prepare when you have so much uncertainty around what you’re supposed to teach and how you’re supposed to teach and how you're supposed to teach it?

I have an answer for that-- you operate an education system in which teachers do not have to wait for some top-down manager to direct them in how they are to answer those questions. You don't make teachers wait to be told exactly what they should teach and how they should teach it (and what Big Standardized Test they should teach to). Instead, you use a system where teachers are free to use their trained, professional judgment to answer those questions themselves on the local level. 

The whole thing rankles because it is such transparent non-serious bullshit. Exactly what principle is being espoused here-- it's always sound policy to throw good money after bad? when you're doing something that demonstrably doesn't work, for God's sake, don't change a thing? stay the course? when you're failing, grit your teeth and fail harder? Would they apply ANY of these principles to the businesses that they run? And where were they and their deep concern for classroom confusion and the spending of great stacks of money back when Common Core was inflicted on schools in the first place?

Why were the cost and chaos of implementing Common Core such Really Good Things, but the cost and chaos of getting rid of this unpopular failed experiment suddenly cause for a giant clutching of massive pearls?

Go back to your boardrooms, boys. Get your noses out of education, stop imagining that schools exist just to serve you, and let us do our jobs.

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