As I’ve been talking about, the institution and subsequent repeal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is the perfect example of a sensible conversation that is completely derailed by misinformation for purely political gain. There are others, but this one I have a bit of a corner on, as a practitioner of curriculum design aiming for these academic targets. The lies I’ve heard are rampant. Let me explain. Teachers were/are involved. The classroom perspective was included. From the onset, there wasn’t a political agenda in creating a list of academic targets–in fact, how could there be? Algebra is algebra. Standard English is Standard English. The motivation in the initiative reflected the dearth of achievement, the growing gap for our most struggling schools and learners, and a fairly realistic way to address PART of it. If the establishment responds by throwing the baby out with the bathwater, they demonstrate a lack of many of the critical thinking skills the CCSS itself can help impart (through the locally designed curriculum of artisan teachers). I routinely tell my students that nothing is written—only rewritten (wish I knew the source for that truth).
That those of us who are in the profession—but above the simpleton tactics being employed in ousting the CCSS in Indiana—wouldn’t have noticed this approach, is an insult to our intelligence and mastery of the content we teach. I’m reminded of my nephew, who as a toddler, brought a water gun into the house, concealing it as he entered. I watched as my own mother asked him what her grandson had behind his back. He first lied that he didn’t have anything, then when confronted, pretended in earnest he didn’t know he had it in his hand. Behind his back.
The Common Core in and of itself should guide teachers towards creating curriculum that enabled students a clear path towards presenting much more valid arguments than what this faction has accomplished through fear and misappropriation. If I sound angry, it’s because I couldn’t have fathomed such egregious behavior would have made it to a bill, let alone out of committee, any more than I could’ve figured that my nephew would’ve been able to sneak that water gun into the house after being appropriately questioned.
It’s not that the governor has failed us teachers in this measure (among others such as the guns-in-school-parking-lots-decriminalization), it’s that he has betrayed teachers and students by forcing us to take a lesser route to achieving our goals, and thinking we wouldn’t notice that it’s either for political gain or due to a complete lack of capacity for problem-solving and critical thinking that isn’t at the behest of some constituency that has the same cognitive dysfunction.
Harsh? Perhaps. But I have real work to do because my OWN cognitive dysfunction manifests like this: I believe that if I don’t create a sense of urgency for my teenage students that reading with the utmost of comprehension and writing with the utmost of clarity is the most important thing to accomplish right now, I’m putting their very lives at risk. Yes, as whack as it sounds, I believe that it is my mission is to save the lives of teenagers by teaching them how to read and write, and in doing so, they achieve the ability to think critically.
It’s a befuddling thing isn’t it? And I’d be extremely self-conscious about it if I thought I might be the only teacher who thinks this way.
But I’m not.