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Can the Left and Right Find Common Ground on Common Core and High-Stakes Testing?

Yes, but ask a few important questions before you decide which team you're on.

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

April 15, 2013 - 2:30 pm
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I recently wrote about an event called Occupy the DOE, where many of the speakers espoused radical views on education and society. While I disagreed with the extreme left-wing views of many of the speakers, I didn’t disagree with everything said during the 4-day event. In fact, several times I had to remind myself that I wasn’t listening to a Tea Party event or homeschool conference as speaker after speaker railed against high-stakes testing and the Common Core.

Parents and activists from across the political spectrum object to excessive testing and the implementation of Common Core in their states; there is much common ground to be found. But it’s important to dig beneath the surface and consider exactly what you’re signing up for when you join a movement to eliminate high-stakes testing or block the Common Core. Some groups have more than just the best interest of your child as their top priority and you may inadvertently be drafted into the public school monopoly-protection movement.

A group called “United Opt Out” organized the Occupy the DOE event in front of the Department of Education in April. Their mission statement claims that they are “dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education,” saying that high stakes testing is

destructive to ALL children, educators, communities, the quality of instruction in classrooms, equity in schooling, and the democratic principles which underlie the purposes of public education.

There is a lot to unpack in that statement, but hyperbole aside, many parents whose children attend public school do have legitimate complaints about high-stakes testing and its negative influence on education. In fact, the testing culture is sometimes cited as a reason parents remove their children from public schools for homeschooling or private schools. As states march forward with the implementation of the Common Core standards, teachers, parents and even many unions fear that schools will double-down on the worst aspects of the testing culture and lose even more local control, so in many aspects, parents and activists on both side of the political spectrum can find areas of agreement.

Timothy Slekar, a former teacher, is now an associate professor of teacher education at Penn State Altoona. At the Occupy the DOE rally he described a parent-teacher conference where he and his wife were told that their son had failed a writing test because of a technicality. They felt that the formulaic requirements of the writing test were stifling their son’s creativity and they decided then to opt out of all future high-stakes testing for their son. “This disastrous system was forcing his teachers to comply with the powers that be.” He said,

The [tests] were forcing Luke to parrot sentences in a pre-ordained structure so that a low-paid temp worker would be able to score it. … Our son was not going to take part in a system that forced the teachers to comply with educational mandates constructed by politicians. … We were opting out.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
The Left has dominion over the education system. Common Core should be resisted and rejected with all your might.

Can Israeli Jews find common ground with those who wish to annihilate them? Only a fool would take that path.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
King David has been anointed but King Saul is still running around thinking it's all about him.

We must always keep the big picture in view. There is no need for a DOE. There is no reason for the federal government to be involved in education. Education is a local government concern. It SHOULD be handled at the city/county level. Any level above that (I'm talking to you State run education) is a guaranteed fail. Private/Home school education produces wonderful results while government run education produces abysmal results. I say this as a retired public school teacher wounded from banging my head against the wall so often during my 29 year career.

Private companies can produce standardized curriculum, goals, standards and benchmarks. Schools can voluntarily choose which one, if any, they want to use for their advertising. Testing is then professionally done (audit style) by a third party to ensure a fraud-free result.

There is a plethora of incredible, amazing material out there now. The Internet has decentralized education forever. The government zombie wealth-eaters have not realized it yet. All we need nowadays is a "little red schoolhouse" with a great Internet connection, some sharp TAs, and a few students. The current education system is King Saul, and King Saul is a dead man walking.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, we cannot find common ground, because Common Core is about greater Federal control of our education system. That means more power to offer re-education, rather than education. It's all in the guise of doing good.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I am a solid conservative, but I strongly agree with the lefties regarding the dangers of "corporate influences" on public education. Capitalism is awesome, but crony capitalism and rent-seeking are perversions of the free market. What Pearson and other likeminded companies are doing is trying to profit by providing materials designed to meet the very requirements they helped write in the first place. By having a "common core," Pearson, et. al. save money by not having to tailor their materials for different states.

Just because a corporation is being attacked doesn't mean we conservatives should automatically rush to its defense. When corporations stand against our principles, they should be opposed.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Common Core is turning out NOT to be what the governors association conference promoted. Today, common core is left to the states to formulate just like NCLB and RtT. In reality, there will be limited chances that the standards create a foundation to work collaboratively across states or even among all districts within a state.

For those with years of educator experience, you will find this to be the same prerpetual experimental standards and modalities that changes like previous systems but with a great deal higher and broader frequency YTY. This is nothing more than NCLB 3.0 (RtT and CCSS) and the same as the past 47 years.

Maybe people will wake up and start campaigning their school districts to become 'independent' school districts. Of course you better have the means to financially support a first class independent education district.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left has dominion over the education system. Common Core should be resisted and rejected with all your might.

Can Israeli Jews find common ground with those who wish to annihilate them? Only a fool would take that path.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
King David has been anointed but King Saul is still running around thinking it's all about him.

We must always keep the big picture in view. There is no need for a DOE. There is no reason for the federal government to be involved in education. Education is a local government concern. It SHOULD be handled at the city/county level. Any level above that (I'm talking to you State run education) is a guaranteed fail. Private/Home school education produces wonderful results while government run education produces abysmal results. I say this as a retired public school teacher wounded from banging my head against the wall so often during my 29 year career.

Private companies can produce standardized curriculum, goals, standards and benchmarks. Schools can voluntarily choose which one, if any, they want to use for their advertising. Testing is then professionally done (audit style) by a third party to ensure a fraud-free result.

There is a plethora of incredible, amazing material out there now. The Internet has decentralized education forever. The government zombie wealth-eaters have not realized it yet. All we need nowadays is a "little red schoolhouse" with a great Internet connection, some sharp TAs, and a few students. The current education system is King Saul, and King Saul is a dead man walking.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
With 29 years in public education you should well know that theres always been an option called "independent school district" in which it can opt to be completely local and independent or state and federal blended. You should also have learned that NO state is mandated by law to receive federal education funding or most any other kinds federal subsidies. If your state would opt out of federal funding to include federal education funding, there would be no discussion to be had. When will people learn where to take their complaints about federal funding subsidies? As long as states stick their beggars hand out the feds will keep on filling it.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, we cannot find common ground, because Common Core is about greater Federal control of our education system. That means more power to offer re-education, rather than education. It's all in the guise of doing good.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great advice Paula! It is important people understand there are different core motivations when deciding to get involved and more importantly, how to tell the difference. As to the two sides "finding common ground," I don't know if that can run deep enough to create lasting alliances. But perhaps, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend..."
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maxim 29. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more. No less.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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