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02 March 2014 @ 09:02 am
Eat those words, please.  
I admire Bill Gates for his philanthropy. Giving money to help solve some of the world's problems is more than admirable. However, when he begins to talk about how to "fix" education, he is out of his element. Here is proof positive (in case you needed more): http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/11/bill-melinda-gates-common-core-education-column/5404469/. An article from USA TODAY is entitled COMMEND COMMON CORE. Here he intends to separate myth from fact about CCSS. The problem is, he is MYTH-taken.

"The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years, except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market."

What is wrong with this statement? Two things. One is the inclusion of the word EVERY. The other is the unspoken but present idea that anything else before CCSS did not have as its goal success for students. I am more than a little tired of this sweeping sort of statement. I do not see anything in these standards that indicate how they will be better than any other standards. Nothing here that will guarantee EVERY student will leave school ready for career or college. What I do see in the standards is a mixture of the same old standards that have served us well for a long time plus some standards that are developmentally inappropriate mixed in with some sort of magical thinking that this is the panacea.

But let's take a look at what Gates labels as myths. Here is his Myth #1: Common Core was created without involving parents, teachers or state and local governments. Sadly, this is the truth no matter how much Gates might want to to be myth (if only wishing made it so). The CCSS were created by folks with little or ZERO classroom experience. Period. Stating that the organizations involved represented the interests of the stakeholders is NOT the same.

Move on to Myth #2: Common Core State Standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests. Okay, if you keep the word MORE in the preceding sentence, perhaps this statement is a myth. What is not a myth is that the CCSS come with a new set of high stakes tests, tests that are already causing more than a little concern. Take a look at some of the sample assessments, please, Mr. Gates, and tell me how they are not high stakes.

Moving along to Myth #3: Common Core standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility. If you did not watch the video I posted yesterday, please do so. I want Mr. Gates to watch this video and then tell me how this might be anywhere in the ballpark of good teaching and not the worst sort of skill, kill, drill imaginable. I know there are some states where the implementation is being done with respect for the autonomy of the teachers. However, there are plenty of instances where autonomy has been stripped. I wish Mr. Gates got out more to talk to those affected: students, parents, and teachers.

If only USA Today (and the other newspapers or TV news programs) would really shine a light on CCSS and its ties to corporations who are making huge profits from this interference in education we might have a chance of putting a stop (not just a moratorium) to the madness. In the meantime, I ask Mr. Gates to speak about subjects he knows. Let's leave the study of myths to the ELA classroom, shall we?
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