Ohio’s Transformation Into Texas

We teachers who espouse progress and continuous improvement of our craft really need to consider the source when reviewing the criticisms and allegations of Mark Smith. This Buckeye is the president of Ohio Christian University, and leaving me in disbelief that neither John Boehner nor John Kasich are no longer the most annoying, paranoid, simple-minded, illogical politicians in Ohio. However, I can imagine such ignorance from this small time college President Mark Smith, who THINKS he’s in the business of education shepherding his flock of 3,300 Christian students. How he ever ended up on the STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION is beyond me, and how being president of a myopic evangelical Christian university gives you merit to weigh in on K–12 education policy is further YET beyond me. And yet he does weigh in on The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the subsequent and controversial PARCC assessments built upon the CCSS.

Granted, Smith is citing the PARCC Assessments as the impetus for his comments, these tests stem directly from the Common Core State Standards which education professionals behaving like Luddites deride. I don’t disagree with the strain that the PARCC assessments may cause, but I take great issue with the claim that the CCSS isn’t high quality. For most states, it’s an even wash, and for many in the South, they’re a major improvement.

In a transient culture where there is a HIGH degree of probability that students may start school in one state and complete their K–12 education in another, isn’t it FAIR to those families that their transcripts are based upon SOME common understanding of the skills they should acquire, filtered anecdotally through an artful teacher that chooses the content and makes the skill acquisition process (we call that “learning”), something local and germane to the culture and readiness of a student through differentiation? Did I lose you there?

Here are some thoughts I have based upon this guy’s rational thinking:

• By his logic, the US Constitution shares the same risks as the Common Core State Standards for upholding a communist agenda.

• By his logic, our currency system which so fluidly works across state lines could be cited for promoting socialist ideas.

• Evidently McCarthyism is ALIVE and well in this country.

• I’ve been teaching the CCSS for over two years with growing appreciation for their structure in preparing students for what comes next by giving teachers guidance for curriculum design. And though I do not represent the company itself, I know that the LearnZillion Dream Team of 225 teachers who have worked doggedly on CCSS lesson planning would likewise agree.

So, Mr. Smith…have you READ the standards? Have you visited a classroom where Common Core aligned lessons are being taught by actual, highly-qualified teachers to actual students? I’d invite you to my classroom where I’d help you with the most relevant skill you are currently lacking…writing sound arguments. Let’s look to the first writing standard for 11–12 graders:

The President will be able to (PWBAT) write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

But let me further unpack that for you so you know what the lessons will entail: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1a Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1b Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1c Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11–12.1e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

We’ll take it easy, make sure you have options for each mini-lesson that match your learning style, and if you need to change your stance because there is simply not enough supporting evidence, then hey. No problem, buddy.

The CCSS nor PARCC are NOT communistic, socialistic, or evil. If it hurts to implement them, then we’ll need to increase the state budget for aspirin. And that may not be a bad idea. Perhaps Texas will foot the bill.

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