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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

Slekar now works with United Opt Out to advocate for reform: “This means advocating for the ultimate freedoms; the freedom to think, the freedom to imagine, the freedom to create, and the freedom to dream.”

As an advocate for homeschooling, school choice, and liberty, I could not have said it better myself.

Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, N.Y., recently made news when his resignation letter was published in the Washington Post. He wrote that his profession no longer exists and lamenting the loss of freedom he and his fellow teachers have experienced in recent years:

I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely cliché with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”…I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. … This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.

I think we would probably all agree that we don’t want “zombie-like adherence” to anything and we certainly don’t want our children to settle for a “shallow and generic” curriculum.

Most parents whose kids have taken one form or another of the state-mandated achievement tests know this testing drill. No Child Left Behind promised to improve the quality of education in the country, in part by requiring states to impose tests proving that students achieved federal benchmarks. A few years ago I wrote a piece about how low the standards really are on these tests. For example, the Ohio “Graduation” Test is really a 10th grade proficiency test and students need to answer fewer than half of the questions correctly to pass the test. Schools across the state proudly display “EXCELLENT” banners bragging that their graduates passed a 10th grade proficiency test. Everyone just averts their eyes when 39% of Ohio graduates sign up for remedial classes their first year of college.

So at a basic level, parents and educators are on the same page in their desire to reform the current way we do testing and mandate curriculum in our schools. Unfortunately, the Common Core train is rolling across the country, promising more of the same high-stakes testing.

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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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (5)
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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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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.
1 year ago
1 year 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..."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maxim 29. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more. No less.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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