Recently we’ve seen great articles written by some of our friends arguing against Common Core. While it is great to see the effort, I would be disloyal to our cause if I did not make a couple of very necessary points.
We’ve been arguing against Common Core for a number of years; most intensely for two years now. We’ve said all there is to say. We’ve testified, we’ve lobbied. And we’ve been ignored, let down, betrayed, and stabbed in the back by candidates for whom we’ve campaigned. With great fanfare the establishment rammed through additional loony programs that have nothing to do with education, at the cost of hugely bloating the State’s education budget, plus the largest ever tax hike to support it. Let’s face it; the issue is lost. The establishment is sticking with Common Core, the testing / data collection / data sharing / data mining program (NSLDS) and the corresponding huge payments to their cronies.
We can’t go on just repeating our talking points from 2-3-… years ago. In addition, we also have to look forward, what happens next? At least two significant events are coming up next.
(1) It is becoming more likely that some sort of opt-out program WILL be legal and viable. What that means to us is that we have to find a way to talk directly to PARENTS and inform them and get them to exercise that option. They don’t even have to wait till the State makes it legal to do so; even high school kids in other States had done so, with great effect. Does anyone among us know any parents with kids in school? Can we get them to open up and talk about their specific experiences? Can we convince them to stand with us and keep their children from submitting to these tests and data collection efforts? Those of us who know such parents should start a campaign of personal, parent-to-parent contacts. We have all the fliers we need; those of us with a gift for it just have to talk to people.
(2) By law the State’s education establishment must regularly re-evaluate the existing education standards and make recommendations for adjusting them based on the previous years’ experience with them. It’s in the NRS. That means the “Nevada Academic Content Standards” (Common Core) will be up for re-evaluation in 2017. We have to prepare for that. And I think the best way we have to prepare for it is with a point by point, line by line critique of the CCSS, and a point by point, line by line comparison with much more viable, much more successful alternatives, such as the pre-CCSS Massachusetts standards). I am not an expert on education standards and how they are translated into curricula and lesson plans, or how you validate them. (When I was studying to be teacher and when I taught, the textbook was the standard and the curriculum, we were taught how to translate that into the daily weekly monthly lesson plans.) But if you can believe the claims made by E.D. Hirsch, for example, he had over 2000 actively practicing teachers from a great variety of schools develop, test and prove his “common core knowledge” program published in his series of textbooks, “What your … Grader Needs To Know.” Those among us with the academic credentials should find a way to enlist their help with this effort. THEY obviously knew what the kids need to know…
The bottom line is, finding new ways to repeat ourselves, or (re)emphasizing different points, is not enough. It is necessary but that’s just Step One. Step Two is showing and explaining, to the low-information parents fearful of retaliation against their kids by the education establishment, that there is a very reasonable way forward out of all this.
Any anti-Common Core campaign agenda has to include:
1. Informing and encouraging parents to opt their kids out of Common Core related testing in this and any other school year;
2. Asking parents and teachers for feedback about Common Core and how it is working in school and at home, with examples of classroom work and homework;
3. Electing the right candidates next year (president, congress, legislature, school boards); and that means NO (socialists masquerading as) Democrats, NO RINOs, NO backstabbing “conservatives;”
4. Informing the public and elected officials about Common Core, testing, data mining — as designed and as experienced in the classroom, the contrast between Common Core claims and actual results, the contrast between Common Core and other existing far better standards;
5. In 2017 the Nevada state board of education has to review the standards and we have to make sure they decide to dump Common Core.