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29 April 2013 @ 09:17 am
Big wheels keep on turnin' while classrooms keep on burnin'  
This morning I read a fantastic letter (here is the link: http://atthechalkface.com/2013/04/27/dear-nys-parents/) from a NY parent and educator about the new tests being administered to the students of that state. It detailed the reasons why having kids sit for hours of testing does not advance the true cause of education. Here is my favorite piece from the opening:

"By the way, here is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rigor: harsh inflexibility in opinion; the quality of being unyielding or inflexible; an act or instance of strictness; severity; or cruelty."

While I was thinking about the post for today, then, a friend posted out to Facebook about a presentation by Sue Pimentel, one of the architects of CCSS. Pimentel was telling a very large group that "emphasizing narratives," and "writing personal narratives," and "reading any 'ol text" were out in favor of many familiar CCSS tenets that are IN. Oh. . .poets? Pimintel does not see our language--our figurative language--as "academic vocabulary." I have heard from others that CCSS hopes to dethrone literature. Really?

Here is the same problem once again. This IN and OUT, this false dichotomy about what COUNTS and what does not. This inconsistency of definitions even from the architects themselves continues to concern me. Millions (more likely billions) have been spent and there is still so much that is not right here. Each and every one of these mistakes, missteps, fuzzy or incorrect definitions, and walking back of goals and objectives harms a REAL KID. This is not something esoteric or abstract; this is happening to KIDS, real students, in classrooms across the country. Much like I fear Texas kids will spell star STAAR before long, I worry that the changing definitions and changing goals and changing policies and changing tests will lead to cognitive confusion to spending on the WRONG materials (not books, I am certain) and to more money in the pockets of the business people.

Back to HOPE (VISION), though. I hope that the letter I read this morning from a parent/educator goes viral. I HOPE that more parents speak up (and not just the ones in Texas protesting tests because their kids' grades are based on some of the new tests and that could hurt their precious GPAs and college admissions, though ANY protest is a good one at this point). Kim McCollum put together a "rebel base" of folks and submitted a proposal to NCTE about talking back to CCSS. I am happy to note it has been accepted. I suspect it will be a lively session and HOPE we have folks spilling out into the hallway.

Speak up. Point out the inconsistencies. Challenge the assertions made without any research. Ask questions. Accept no mandates. Keep the focus on the kids. They are the HOPE we must cling to through all of this.
 
 
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ext_1780367 on April 29th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
Response
Once again you bring much to the discussion. You keep us all informed, helping us to raise our voices wisely. We have got to keep the focus on the kids. It's always been my focus and always will be.