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03 June 2013 @ 10:38 am
Rouse the Rabble!  
You know how much I love stirring up the hornets' nest. And I am not the only one. I love Anthony Cody's post here: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/06/lesson_for_our_leaders_the_bes.html (and thanks to Kim McCollum-clark for the link). Here is the money quote from this excellent piece:

"We need to be absolutely clear. The Common Core is NOT a new paradigm. It is old wine in a new, high tech bottle. If you want to give teachers a set of loose standards and the time to work together to make them come alive for their students, fantastic. However, if you want to create a seamless system of cradle to college expectations, measured in all sorts of high stakes tests, we are not interested, and will fight you every step of the way. As John Merrow wrote recently, "to hell with the tests." When John Merrow has become more radical than leaders of our unions, something is amiss. "

CCSS is not new nor is it a paradigm-shifting piece of work. It is flawed (see yesterday's post for some of the many flaws inherent in this supposed panacea) as curriculum first and foremost. Never mind teh accountability piece. This is why I am not impressed or satisfied with simply calling for a moratorium on the testing aspect of CCSS as suggested by some of our literacy leaders. We need to do more.

Now, I know I have the advantage of speaking from my perch atop a tower as a university person. I have academic freedom (for now, at least) and can rail against the incorporation and commodification of education. I am using this advantage to call for a halt to RttT and CCSS and other so-called reforms. What we need is a reasoned discussion about the purpose of education. What is our mission? Here is the stated mission of CCSS taken directly from their home page:

"The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy."

Is this what we want as the mission of education? Not IMHO (okay, not always so humble). What is the purpose of education? We need to begin by answering that question first. I always see our true purpose as preparing students to be good citizens, citizens of their communities and citizens of the world. Education is not so much about the WHAT (curriculum, skills, standards, etc.) as about the WHO (students and the other stakeholders who are part of the educational community). If we lose sight of the WHO, then we are nothing but a machine trying to turn out a product of some kind. Kids are not products. Teachers are not assembly line workers. Education is not a machine. It is time to focus on the WHO.
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