When it comes to education, perhaps instead of listening to people like Bill Gates and David Coleman, who were never responsible for teaching a classroom full of kids, we should start listening to those who have faced that responsibility. New York state has been an early leader in common core implementation and, to say it is not going well is an understatement. Teachers in that state are taking off the gloves and telling it like it is.

At a recent Forum on Common Core in Poughkeepsie, October 10th, members of the public and teachers told the state board and Commissioner King what they really thought about Common Core. This first video is testimony by a teacher who has been rated highly effective in the past. She talks about Common Core syndrome being diagnosed by psychologists as directly related to children’s exposure to common core teaching methods in the classroom. “This is child abuse,” she says.

Anyone out there who is feeling powerless right now should pay attention to minute 1:30

Because you’ve awoken the mommies, you’re in trouble… Hundreds of thousands of mommies are going to fill out this form and are going to have their children refuse to take this exam. Because the mommies in New York don’t abuse their children and they’re not going to let  bullies do that to them either.

This teacher’s testimony is not hyperbole. In this video, child psychologist Mary Calamia testified before the New York State Assembly Minority Education Committee about the sudden rise of stress related disorders in children she has seen as a result of the implementation of common core in New York classrooms.

 

The next video from the same forum is an equally powerful testimony given by another teacher.

You’ve instituted way too many cogs on a massive structure that is set to implode upon itself as it pushes out 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s who have become experts at sitting for 75 minutes and spitting back well rehearsed test responses… You (the board) clearly stand by the governor and big business, not our children. You are failing, not us.

There are many teachers in Missouri who share these teachers’ sentiments. They are moving forward blindly (because they haven’t seen the test) to implement standards that DO transform the way the teach without training, resources or a clear vision of the end point. The few that have piloted the SBAC tests themselves have walked away shaken at the poor quality of the questions on the math and the English tests that they, as education professionals, struggled to answer.

Other teachers across the country are venting their frustration directly to the source, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. On Teachers Letters to Bill Gates   teachers vent their frustration and anger at the corporate reformers who indict themselves in their speeches by admitting that their real goal is profit, not education.

1. “One of the things about the Common Core is that it’s forcing [teachers] to go back to learning themselves.”

So let me get this straight. Teachers, who dedicate their professional lives to fostering a love of learning in children, never considered that they should be lifelong learners themselves until a bunch of non-educators funded and created the Common Core? Really? This statement is particularly ironic, since your reforms have compromised teacher autonomy by promoting the prepackaged, scripted, standardized lessons that companies like Pearson are selling to make a profit.

And what does this kind of statement say about your faith in America’s teachers? How can you expect them to believe that your motivations are good when you backhandedly challenge their professionalism, their judgment, their work ethic, and their intelligence?

All of this shows the glaring mistake made when they set the table for common core. There were two key stakeholders not at the table: teachers and parents. A stool was brought over for teachers after the menu was selected and the food cooked so they could be at the table to hear how wonderful the meal was going to be. This has been the focus of professional development for two years. It is clear this was too late in the process to include them and they would have had some great input if they had been included sooner. The parents still don’t have a seat at the table. They are just being asked to pay for the groceries and trust that the food served to their kids will be good tasting and good for them.  You’ll forgive us if this is one meal we aren’t thankful for.

 

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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