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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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When discussing the issue of high-stakes testing and the Common Core, parents and teachers — left and right, conservative and liberal —can often find common ground because almost everyone has some objections to these intrusions into local classrooms. But it’s important to understand that the common ground may only extend so far. The agenda at the Occupy the DOE event and the United Opt Out movement extends far beyond objecting to standardized tests, and parents who join this movement may also be inadvertently signing up to fight against other education reforms that they support:

  • Teach for America
  • Charter schools
  • Merit/performance pay for teachers
  • Right-to-work and other public sector union reforms

In addition, one of this group’s biggest objections to the Common Core is that corporate (read: capitalist) interests provide funding for the effort. Many in the traditional public education monopoly believe that education should be all public, all democratic, all the time. Any variation must be defeated and destroyed. There is a broad thread of Occupy/1% mentality running through this movement. Diane Ravitch regularly rants about the influence of the “Billionaire Boys Club” on education, and Phil Cantor, a teacher and union organizer in the Chicago Public Schools, said at the Occupy the DOE event that they must “counter the obscene money and power of the corporate reformers.”

As you work in your community and state to reform the current testing culture in your schools and as you battle to stop Common Core and other federal interference in local education (it seems like everyone hates the Common Core), consider to what extent you want to remove accountability from classrooms. In a country where as many as a third of high school graduates who attend college must take remedial classes, hearing teachers say, “We do not need these tests; we are professionals; tell the people that teachers already know how to assess their learners” may not be good enough. Parents — and taxpayers — need some reasonable assurance that good teachers are teaching well and that students are learning. And they also need to know that there is a quick, efficient way to get rid of the bad teachers. Students First has an excellent plan for a balanced approach to evaluating student achievement and teacher success (check out the video below to see how it works in the D.C. schools).

Also consider whether the movement you are joining is opposed to school choice. A majority of parents support charter schools and want educational choices for their children. And does the movement you’re joining hate corporations and profit and blame capitalism for the evils in society? Are you on board with that?

When this issue comes up in your community and your school district, be an informed information consumer. Ask a lot of questions and demand answers. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for when you join a movement so that you’re not unintentionally drafted onto a team that supports causes you ideologically oppose.

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Recently "retired" from homeschooling, Paula is an unapologetic Christian and Constitutional conservative. Though she aligns politically with the Tea Party, she is a member of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee. She is also a contributor at Ohio Conservative Review. Paula lives in N.E. Ohio with her husband, three dogs, and two parrots.

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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.
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)
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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.
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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