An Angry Teacher Speaks

This isn’t a funny post. I’m sorry. I know many of you follow this silly little endeavor of mine because it’s all about the ridiculous things that make this job so damn fun. And I love those things. I do. They are such a big part of what makes me love my job. I think I sometimes revel in and celebrate the silly things more than the average teacher. But at my core, underneath everything, the part of my identity that is the most important part of who I am right now is- teacher. 

I love my students. I would do almost anything for them. The highest responsibility I’ve ever held is the privilege of helping them become happy, engaged learners, and successful members of a greater global community.

Yet I can’t, in good consciences, continue to do things I know are bad for my students. Why, you may ask, am I doing things I know are wrong? Ask the state and federal government why. Ask Arne Duncan. Ask the writers of the Common Core State Standards. Ask Bill Gates. Ask Pearson publishing company. 

Here is what I’m angry about. 

The Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate.

You may have heard about the Common Core standards. They cover grades K-12, are being implemented on a nearly national level, and have the goal of readying all students for college and career. Which is not a bad goal! Ask yourself, though, about the validity of developing reading, writing, and math standards for Kindergartners. Kindergarten used to be about learning to tie your shoes, hold a pencil, empathize with your peers, solve problems. Clearly this was a terrible idea, as I’m sure everyone reading this has suffered hugely from an inability to function in college or career based on the lack of standardized literacy skills you received.
 
Here’s the thing- many kindergarten classes are half day. In a half days time (even a full day in most cases), you can’t possibly cover all the skills K previously taught AND meet the CC standards. So by age 6, little Johnny has learned to “With guidance and support from adults, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.5 ) But he never had time to learn what to do when the kid at the table next to him takes his crayons away, other than smacking him.
 
It sounds dire, but if kindergarten isn’t the time and place to learn these skills, many kids will never learn them. Furthermore, how are kids who don’t know all their letter sounds supposed to be writing at all, let alone strengthening their writing as needed?! Multiple organizations have come out arguing that these standards, particularly for the primary grades, are developmentally inappropriate-  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/ 
 
Standardized tests don’t effectively evaluate students or teachers
 
Think back to times in your life where you have had to sit down and fill in bubbles on an answer sheet. Chances are that after the SATs and GREs, most of us didn’t do that. It isn’t a real world skill. Yet we evaluate students as young as 7 on their ability to take these tests. I’ll share an example from my own experience. I had a student with ADHD. It’s difficult for him to sit still for very long. He moves around, waves his arms, talks his thinking out before answering, draws pictures and diagrams. He’s a smart kid, and is pretty successful academically. He did poorly on our state test, though. Sitting still for two hours is really hard for an 8 year old, especially one with some attentional and impulsivity issues. Does this mean he won’t be successful in high school, college, his adult life? Hell no! He’s an incredibly creative, outside the box thinker. He solves problems, writes great creative stories, plans amazing science experiments. Yet we are sending a message to kids and their families that they are academically underperforming if they can’t be successful on one specific type of data collection! 
 
These tests take time away from my teaching. They require me to have taught all standards before April so my kids can prove they learned them in time for the test. We are cramming ten months worth of teaching into seven months. Despite my best efforts, my kids are stressed and anxious about the tests, and can’t focus on the days leading up to them. In many schools, teachers are expected to take weeks on test preparation. Do we really think that our children are best educated by being reminded to fill in the bubbles fully, rather than being given the chance for authentic, open ended, student driven education? Do we think that our nation is best served by creating a generation of kids designed to answer to the test rather than think outside the box?
 
Teacher evaluations are also tied to these tests. If all your students are on grade level, have no major disabilities, are from stable homes, are well fed, well rested, healthy, and English speaking, this is a decent plan. Our schools don’t work that way, though. Our kids come from all walks of life, with unique and diverse backgrounds. And we love this. We embrace it. I have had the experience of a student coming in as a non-reader, able only to write fragment sentences. In a year, that student moved up multiple levels in reading, accessed chapter books, wrote full, well constructed paragraphs. The standards say she should be writing multiple paragraphs, though! These tests don’t take into account that students and teachers may bust their butts and make huge progress- if you don’t meet the standards, you’re out of luck. When did we decide that all kids meet the same milestones at the same time? What happened to what used to be the accepted belief in diversity of learning styles, of maturation at own pace? Does not reading at a fourth grade level by the end of fourth grade really mean you won’t be a successful adult?
 
These tests are the way they are because it just isn’t cost effective to assess in a variety of authentic, developmentally appropriate ways. Yet we give so much weight and importance to them! It’s my hope that more parents will choose to opt their students out of these tests, as we’ve seen in places like Seattle and New York- http://www.thenation.com/blog/176994/turn-tune-opt-out#
 
Corporate interests play a major part in the new education and testing system
 
One of the major publishers of new curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and of many of the state tests, is Pearson. This company describes themselves as “the leading pre K-12 curriculum, testing, and software company in the US.” They and their subsidiary companies are earning a great deal of money on the programs being written specifically to align to the new standards. Why shouldn’t they? A deeper look into the company reveals some uncomfortable connections- http://unitedoptout.com/boycott-pearson-now/. Having the same individuals and corporate entities creating and shaping educational policy and then benefitting financially from their creation is not ethical. School systems end up needing to buy new programs year after year (from companies like Pearson) as standards are rewritten (by people with a financial stake in companies like Pearson). Why should the shareholders in a publishing company have more say in what our nation’s students learn than the people who teach them?
 
Pearson isn’t alone. Companies like McGraw Hill are also profiting off our nation’s schools in unethical ways. If public education becomes for profit, what reason is there for companies earning money to actually care about students? What voice will students, families, and teachers have moving forward into this system?
 
Poverty is the real reason why students (and schools) don’t do well
 
Try this out- skip dinner, then breakfast the following day. Then try to learn a new skill, or take a test. It isn’t easy, even for adults. Yet that’s what a growing number of kids in America face daily.  Add to that the fact that some stayed up until 2 am with a sick sibling, or listening to fighting. Add to that the kids who have no one at home to help with homework, or read to them. The kids that experience violence at home, drug use, homelessness. This is not a small percentage. In 17 states, students below the poverty line are the majority of public school students. Take a second to let that sink in. More kids are poor than aren’t in many places. That’s insane.
 
Unemployment is rampant, minimum wage barely feeds and houses an individual let alone a family, food and heating oil prices are rising. I don’t blame parents, in most cases. For every individual who is addicted to drugs and hitting their kids, there are many more who are trying as hard as they can, working multiple jobs just to feed and clothe their kids. How do we expect them to find time to read books to their kids when they work 18+ hours a day? Furthermore, how do we expect teachers to stay in districts where poverty is rampant when test scores are tied to pay?
 
In a recent article by Elaine Weiss, she asks “What if we have actually been teaching the right skills in US schools all along – math and reading, science and civics, along with creativity, perseverance and team-building? What if these were as important a hundred years ago for nurturing innovative farmers and developers of new automobiles as they are now for creating the next generation of tech innovators? What if these are the very characteristics of US schools that have made us such a strong public education nation, and the current shift toward a narrower agenda just dilutes that strength? What if, rather than raising standards, and testing students more, the biggest change we need to address is that of our student body?” 
We are pouring money into systems to assess our nations teachers and students. Those of us within education (and arguably those with any common sense) know why there are deficits. Imagine if we spent that money on universal pre-K, reduced cost breakfast, counselors, special educators? We wouldn’t need a test to let us know which schools were performing poorly if we spent our resources fighting against poverty.

http://billmoyers.com/2013/11/06/the-real-21st-century-problem-in-public-education-is-poverty/

I know that many will read this and write me off. As lazy, bitter, union-driven, out of touch. I will point out these facts- I am inherently optimistic because I hold the future in my hands every day. I question every decision my union makes by asking if it is in the best interest of my kids. It would be so much easier to give in and go into lock step with these standards and initiatives. It’s much easier to use a curriculum someone else wrote (and profited off of) than write one yourself. Standardized tests take no time out of my personal life to make. They are easier than performance assessments, rubrics, student designed projects. This is the harder route. The route of being ostracized, condemned, criticized.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t give a damn. I don’t care what anyone other than my students and their parents think. I know these practices are bad for kids. I know they won’t help my students become real learners, or the successful adults I know they will be. So I will fight them, yell about them, push back against them. My kids are the ones who really matter. I’m doing this for them.

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197 responses to “An Angry Teacher Speaks

  1. I read this post, and your other posts. You need to find another profession. You’re not a good teacher. At first, I thought, “Maybe she is a good teacher, she just doesn’t realize that we need higher standards because some teachers aren’t teaching what they should”. (Notice that I said what, not how…that will be important later). I realized that you are one of the bad ones because you call you students your friends and “dude”. I’m sure you think you are relating to them and getting on their level. Realistically, your already lowering the bar for them and yourself. Then, you’re doing brain quest at the “end” of the day. It’s not that that totally inappropriate (occasionally) but asking random questions and jumping from one student to the other (no scaffolding, no think time, and no repeating the question) and calling on the first kid who raises their hand. You are not teaching them critical thinking, at least not in the scenarios you write about. The quotes from your teaching shows that you are using not higher order questions to stretch the reasoning process. Standards are what you teach your students, how you teach them can be shaped by you! Stop using brain quest at the end of the day and pull a small group, discuss social skills (only because you say your students need them) or DISCUSS exact topics you have taught. You are the reason we need standards, your are the reason we have to purchase expensive curriculum, you are the reason we have to go to so many trainings…because YOU don’t know how to teach. So, please, grow up and get on board for expecting more out of your little “dudes”. It’s hard to ask for higher expectations from friends, but it’s easy to ask for higher expectations from students who have been taught to think critically. Or, go back to globe hopping and embrace life as a barista…a bar is a place you can always find…”friends”. Hardworking teachers who make of friends outside of school are making learning gains and increasing test scores of students who you think “can’t” because of poverty. Raising the bar is what they need to pull themselves out of that cycle, not a teacher who is more concerned about how she cares about them personally and brags about how she impresses them with her tattoos.

    • Wow. There have been some comments here where people disagree with me about many of these topics. I welcome that feedback, appreciate a diversity of beliefs and embrace the discourse that leads to real change. You, however, have made a personal attack based on zero evidence.
      I’m a damn good teacher, thank you very much. I have that feedback from my colleagues, administrators, parents of students, and my students. Every shred of evidence I have (including the very ones I wrote about disliking!) shows that I am an effective teacher.
      I don’t think you get the purpose of this blog, which is fair, since the post you commented on is an anomaly. I write about the funny, cute things my students do. Why the hell would I blog about the higher order questions I use, or the small group work I do, or the rigorous lessons I plan that are differentiated to meet the incredibly wide needs of my students? I do all of those things, as do MOST teachers. And I do them well. I just don’t write about them here.
      You are horrified by the fact that I occasionally do BrainQuest with my kids instead of small group discussions of social skills. We do have those small group, and whole class discussions- but not in the last five minutes of the day when we’re waiting for buses to be called. That would be ridiculous, and an ineffective use of time. Furthermore, why is asking trivia questions a bad thing? It’s fun, it’s informative, it leads to discussions.
      I hold my students to incredibly high expectations, and I am able to support them as they push themselves beyond what they thought was possible. If you think the fact that I say “Good job, dude!” after a student does something they should be proud of is awful, you clearly have no idea of how kids work, or how positive, supportive student-teacher relationships work. If you want to criticize me for valuing the personal relationships I have with my students, go right ahead. I know for a fact that those relationships are advantageous to my student’s learning.
      I’m guessing you don’t have any classroom experience, at least not elementary. If you do, I won’t stoop to your level and tell you that you’re not a good teacher. I will be extremely thankful that I was never one of your students, though!

      • Sounds like Christie B is a troll paid to spew hatred towards anyone that doesn’t agree with the Common Core. Perhaps she is one profiting from the new curriculum. If I was raking in the big bucks from this new mish mosh of a curriculum I might try to bring you down too. Well, if i didn’t have a soul.

      • I am so sorry you seem to have been attacked in here for telling the truth and trying to speak up for a situation that is very sad and broken! Perhaps people misread the anger in your post. It’s clearly an justifiable. You just so badly want to protect the children and give the teachers a voice. I homeschool my kids and have them in co-ops. My son is in kindergarten and he knows all of his letters, how to read, we are working on the shoes..lol. He can write all of his letters, he is 5.
        Please don’t get discouraged with the negative feedback! You are speaking the absolute truth! This article was very well thought out and informative! ❤❤❤

    • A blog is not indicative of her entire teaching career, so to judge her (extremely harshly, I might add) is like judging a book after reading a couple pages at random. I have no idea who this blog writer is, nor have I even read her other blog posts, but I know enough about the internet to know that whatever is posted here is not an accurate or even full representation of a person. So please take your destructive judgement based on minimal facts elsewhere so we can have a constructive debate about the Common Core.

    • When I had my children in public school, my Kindergartner’s teacher called him ‘dude’ all the time. She was on a level with him, and bonded with him, in ways that I can’t even explain and am forever grateful for. She has been one of the most influential people in his life all because of the way she could relate to him. Please, Tattooteacher, DO NOT stop doing what you’re doing!! It’s teachers like you who are remembered FOREVER!

    • I believe Christie B suffers from a ‘holier than thou’ syndrome. She expects everyone to share her beliefs and values and criticizes anyone who goes against them (aka a Liberal). Telling someone they are a bad teacher/educator when you have no knowledge of their teaching (have you sat in her classroom for more than a week, have you seen her students learn concepts…than you have no firsthand knowledge of her skills). The topic is Common Core, not teaching skills!

      Common Core is not about raising the bar, CC is about conformity and controlling. Of all the teachers and educators that I know personally, not one of them agrees with CC – we’re talking people that have been in this profession for a minimum of 10 years. I agree 110% with ‘tattoo teacher’ on all of her points on why CC is more destructive than educational and I have no opinion of her teaching skills except that I know a teacher that CARES about her students offers far more than this nightmare called Common Core will ever be able to offer our students.

      • Good response. Except for the bizarre misuse of the term “Liberal”. It means almost the complete opposite of your use. For example, from Merriam Webster, “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted”. From Oxford, “willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas.” From Macmillan, “accepting different opinions and ways of behaving and tending to be sympathetic to other people”. And dictionaries provide descriptive meanings, not prescriptive, meaning that this is what has been gleaned from actual usage, not the way it “should” be used. I assume this was just a typo or something.

  2. Exactly! As the parent of a kindergarten
    child and a 3rd grader with ADHD I completely relate!! My kindergarten child is struggling with writing sentences!! Duh! Yet being made to feel like he is behind. 😦
    We are having to work double time at home to get by.

    • I have a first grader who has ADHD. If she went to a public school the state of Alabama would require a guide to sit with her in class. The public school that tested her made me feel like the worst parent possible because I told them I would not put her in public school. She goes to a Montessori and is allowed to freely move about the classroom. The public school thought this was the worst idea they had ever heard. In the last six months my daughter has surpassed the state requirements and is excelling into the next level. I know for a fact if I had her in the public school she would not have made it. I feel like she would have been discouraged and made to feel like school was horrible. It’s because of the good teachers like TT that understand children. Thank you so much.

  3. Something is very seriously wrong with the education of our children in public schools these days. The pressure put on our young children and their teachers are out of control. Children are deeply stressed with testing expectations which THREATEN their learning capabilities. Excellent teachers….teachers our children need are equally stressed and unfortunately many, many good ones are leaving their teaching positions. Something has gone very, very wrong and it MUST stop NOW. Time to wake up and do what is right for ALL of our children. Time to support these genuinely caring teachers so that they can do their jobs in a way that is appropriate. Please, do the right, caring and correct thing for all. I am so tired of hearing the mishaps in public schooling today. Why? For what? I just do not get it. Time for major changes in order to educate our little ones correctly and to support the teachers for the wonderful work that they do for OUR children

  4. Thank you for this eye-opening blog! I have a niece who is bright, cooperative, lives in a stable 2 parent supportive family, for whom the pace and pressure associated with standardized tests was so enormous, her hair actually began falling out in clumps! Her doctor diagnosed it as stress related. She was 12 years old. Ultimately my niece was un-enrolled from public school and began homeschooling. It was meant to be for a year but she made amazing progress, her anxiety level plummeted and when the year was up she cried and begged not to go back to public school. She graduated from homeschool with a 4.0 GPA and is now a successful married young adult who chose not to attend college, is a compassionate, confident person who works in a helping profession and is known for her wit and great heart. I’m so thankful that her parents had the courage to go against the tide and remove her from a system that was making her life miserable. I now have 2 kids in public school (pre-k and 1st grade). They love school so far and I’m thrilled but I will not hesitate to fight the system if neccessary.

  5. Here are my thoughts, bullet-pointed as I read:

    -Learning things like empathizing, dealing with other kids, holding a pencil, and the other things you mentioned that are taught in kindergarten are things that a) are also mostly taught at home and b) are not usually the main focus of everyday lessons, but things that happen as the day goes on, either naturally or in order to better facilitate the main lessons.

    -Sure it may seem developmentally inappropriate to be talking about math and reading and writing skills in kindergarten but why is it so bad to set the standards high for kids? It’s stressful for the teacher and even for the student if the teacher is projecting that stress, but it isn’t a bad thing to ask students to learn higher order thinking skills early on. Also, I know that, at least in my own department, teachers at my high school aren’t stressing out about making sure they teach every single standard. I think most teachers are finding the most important and focusing on those, especially since many standards span at least two school years. Also, many teachers and CC contributors have said it will take many years to actually reach all of these standards, so I don’t think the students are expected to reach them all right away.

    -Your issue with standardized testing may be valid for elementary school, I don’t know. But as for the Language Arts tests that are being developed for secondary students, they are actually pretty good: lots of actual writing based on small reading passages, short answer sections, and an adaptive multiple choice that gives questions based on a student’s ability. It isn’t just straight multiple choice in Language Arts now, which is a huge improvement.

    -And lastly, while it certainly may be unethical for businesses to take part in creating both the standards and the curriculum, it doesn’t inextricably mean they don’t care about providing the best education or are working with those who do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they do necessarily, either. I just never think it’s a good idea to assume the worst intentions of everyone on the “other side” we don’t know personally, like they’re Izma from the Emperor’s New Groove, evilly plotting against us.

    • Thanks for the comments! I do agree with some of what you say. To answer your bullets:

      – Not all kids are able to learn those skills at home. I do agree that they are embedded in lessons and general learning, but the issue is that the amount K teachers are being asked to cover means that there is very little time to get to the vast amount of skills students need to learn at that age.

      -I absolutely agree with setting high standards for kids, and that we should be talking about and exploring math and literacy in K. the problem I see is that we are penalizing teachers when kids can’t meet unrealistic standards. Yes, we should encourage and support writing in all it’s forms for young children. Should we be using a child’s inability to do something many see as developmentally difficult to rank a teacher’s effectiveness, though?

      – I don’t have any secondary experience, but I have heard from many colleagues that they are happy with the new standards. My focus for this blog (and in my teaching) is only on the elementary standards.

      – I see your point, but it does make me very uncomfortable to have companies earning profits like this- especially when curriculums are continually revamped and resold at a very high cost.

  6. As a special educator I shudder to think how my students will take to the new common core testing. With the old state testing at least there was a modified assessment that some of my lower functioning students were able to take. Explaining things and writing them out is an issue my students ALL struggle with. Even when I am in the general ed setting (which I am DAILY) the general education students have a great deal of difficulty with this as well. With so many unanswered questions about this new “common core” stuff I am very scared for my students and how their self esteem will fare in the end.

  7. I hope you are a better teacher than your writing implies. You actually included this sentence : “Standardized tests take no time out of my personal life to make.”. There are many other examples of unclear referents and poorly formed sentences in there. Maybe your points are valid, and I am sure you care very much about your work and your students, but you should be held to a high standard yourself.

    • I wrote this at the end of an extremely long, exhausting day, after a well deserved glass of wine. I wrote it because it was that or start crying about how frustrated I was. It was meant as a chance to vent, and to help me clarify what exactly I was frustrated about. I had no idea that it would become as widely seen as it has been. My other posts have had a a few dozen views at best, so this getting over 75,000 has been very surprising (and a little scary!)
      I think I’m a pretty good writer, in general. I think this is a pretty well written post. I hold myself to very high standards when it comes to writing, but I’m only human. A twelve hour workday and a big ol’ glass of merlot meant a few sentences are fuzzy. Overall, I don’t think a few mistakes make me a bad writer, and I don’t think it’s fair to judge me based on one writing sample.

      • People will attack your grammar when they can’t justify why they don’t agree with you! Petty!

    • I feel that this comment is ignorant. If all you are taking away from this blog is poor grammar, I feel sorry for you.

  8. I have a smidgen of hope. I hope that teachers as well as parents will be standing up and saying NO, HELL NO to the C.C. standards. Having standards- yes. DEVELOPMENTAL standards. Asking a Kindergartener to use rhetoric skills is ridiculous! I’m still fighting the fight, AS WE ALL should be doing.

  9. The tests frustrate me already. They took 3 tests at the beginning of the year (all new for this year) and a couple months later. During our conference with my daughter’s teacher she said my daughter scored in the middle of the Below Reading Level. She explained 2 tests a bit, but the 3rd test she discounted and said she didn’t know what That was all about cause no one scored well on it. The thing is, she told me to test my daughter on the Dolce sight words, and stop when there were 10 she had to sound out, write them out, and use them as flash cards. Well… my daughter sight read All the words from Pre-primary to Third grade and only had trouble with Seven words.. three of which were OW words that had the long O sound rather than the OW as in How.. two of the words should be pronounced with a long E phonetically, Been, and Come.. and she flipped letters on two words.. She also could read a book, commenting the whole time About what she was reading, and using different voices for different characters.. yet the Tests said she couldn’t read on a 2nd grade level!.. Finally, on her 3rd testing, she is showing and On Level reading ability.. I wanted to say Duh!.. I Knew she could read! And Forget about Math! They didn’t have them memorizing their simple additions in 1st grade, and now they have to do timed tests in 2nd grade.. Yeah.. not going so well! Anyway, I home-school my two high-school boys with the help of a co-op. This is for various reasons, none of them to do with the new curriculum, but if it keeps getting worse in school, I may have to home-school my daughter, too. The sad thing is that all my 4 older boys went to this elementary school and we Love the teachers. Hate to leave it because they are forced to use this Common Core junk.

  10. I happened upon your blog by chance. This is a beautifully written post about something that needs to be said.

    I’m a high school tutor. I don’t know from where the problem stems, but I know high school juniors in affluent neighborhoods who can’t multiply fractions. Our system is horribly broken. The Common Core is not the answer. The problem may lie in the homes, the schools, the parents, the teachers, society. Or all of the above.

    Perhaps if teachers weren’t so grossly underpaid, the profession would attract more bright dedicated minds who want to make a difference. Like you.

    Thank you for this post. And please excuse the asshat who criticized your writing and all your unclear referents (WTF?). He was lucky you even dignified his comment with a civil answer.

  11. You are spot on. These standards are completely developmentally inappropriate for many children. Children develop at different rates and human beings have different innate talents. We should be individualizing, not standardizing, children’s education. We should discover and develop each individual’s interests and talents. We need smaller class sizes. That’s what we should be spending our money on.

  12. Thank you for writing this blog.

    I am a professor and have been teaching freshman at large public universities for over twenty years. I have noted the shift over time from a mostly-prepared-for-college” generation to a “mostly-NOT-prepared-for-college” generation. I think that much of this decrease in the college freshman skill set is due to the increasing emphasis on K-12 standardized tests. One particular thing I have noted is that my college students are not prepared to write and to critically think. They expect every assignment to have an exact answer and they are most comfortable with multiple choice tests. When I ask them to make observations, evaluate data, and answer an open-ended question or solve a problem with no definite answer, most seem paralyzed. The same assignments and teaching style thrilled classes of students just a few years ago. Creativity in education is crucial. And, no I am not a professor of humanities, but of a physical science.

    My three middle school kids are all critical of their course of education to this point. They have had wonderful caring teachers, but teachers who have had to stick to the standardized model. My 10-year-old started reading a book she was enjoying, but told by her teacher that she could not use that particular book for her book report because it was slightly out of her reading range (as determined by a standardized test). So my kid is actually being punished for reading an age-appropriate book that she was understanding. As I see it, she is being told not to challenge herself in any way.

    The danger, should we keep on this course, is that we will end up with a generation that has very few people willing and able to solve problems and challenge themselves. But how do we buck this trend?

  13. Just got back from a math conference that focused on implementing common core in the classroom. After discussing math workshops, the thought process students should be using with performance tasks and the true meaning of a ‘model’, I’ve gotta say I’m really really excited for what common core is doing to our day. Asking students to sit down and compare/contrast several articles and a video clip seems prudent in this age of media and information overload. Asking them to find variables, create a model, perform a math operation and then explain their reasoning is exactly what we need to do to prepare them to be innovators. And while I haven’t looked at the kindergarten standards, there is a huge chunk of the fifth grade standards that are devoted to ‘listening and speaking’-cooperative group work and using rigor in discussions. Those were skills that were vital to our company when I worked at a tech start-up. To me, it seems like a step in the right direction. -a fifth grade teacher

    • I agree- some parts of the standards are definitely a move in the right direction, especially in regards to math. That’s partly why I’m so frustrated with some of the factors I wrote about. For example, we’re being pressured by the district to get rid of a math program we like and have had success with to adopt something that was written really fast so it could be the first out and ‘ccss aligned’, and doesn’t have much research behind it. I also worry that we put this great focus on real problem solving in math, then (in our state tests anyway) assess in very rigid ways that don’t match how the kids actually learned or were assessed in the classroom. I do hope we can salvage some of the positives from the standards and don’t end up throwing out the baby with the bath water!

  14. Teachers all across America are angry these days because they care enough about their students and their profession to protest vehemently its devaluation and possible demise! The author has things exactly right! She is most assuredly not alone.

  15. If you don’t mind me asking–what exactly can we DO, then? A friend posted this on facebook, and I appreciated reading it. I just had my second child, and have been concerned about the state of education in the U.S. lately, as a result–NPR has done some coverage on this as well.

    I have always voted to fund the schools when it comes up at election times (my mom was a guidance counselor, I was brought up to believe that money should go to the schools), but if that funding is being wasted…what can we do? Besides trying to educate our children at home?

    • I’m assuming your a parent based on what you wrote (sorry if I’m wrong!) and that’s a great question. I wish I had an easy answer! I do think what parents can do is be very vocal to their school and district administration, as well as to their politicians. Parents can also opt out- choose to have their students not take the standardized tests. This is happening with greater frequency, and it sends a powerful message. This site has some good info-
      http://www.fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out

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