professornana (professornana) wrote,

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once more dear friends into the breach...

Occasionally I begin to think I am beating a dead horse when I continue to write about CCSS and its programmed approach to learning. It is not long, though, until I come across a claim about the results we will see with CCSS that makes me go back to beating that relentless drum (not a horse, please) that warns DANGER. I have seen claims such as these before. There are treading programs that claim they will show increased test scores and even better behavior from kids who participate (I could not make this stuff up). And now it is CCSS talking about what we can expect through the miracle of having standards (as if we did not have standards already). Here is what CCSS claims will result (page 7 of the document if you want the source). One kids have gone through CCSS they will do the following:

1. demonstrate independence--I am not sure how this will be demonstrated, but I do think that classes that use the UNprogram build independent readers and writers and thinkers. On the other hand, I think curriculum so tightly structured and narrowly restrictive in terms of materials might just have the opposite effect.

2. build strong content knowledge--Have we not been doing this already? I would think with all the tests to get out of high school and into college that we are doing this, but I saw an article today (pointed out by Arne Duncan no less) that too many applicants for a certain company could not solve 30 math problems in 18 minutes. Of course, there is no more discussion of what exactly those problems are and where applicants are failing is provided (keep it purposefully vague so it is more difficult to find the particulars). Depending on what you asked me to do mathematically I might stumble as well.

3. respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline--I can only speak for my own content area, but I did that as a middle school teacher and so did my colleagues. If this has been so poorly done, how do we account for the success of so many adults (even some of whom are the harshest critics of education)? I would also point out that kids do this early on: watch a toddler or a teen approach parents with different arguments to see which one wins the day.

4. comprehend as well as critique--Maybe that should read comprehend and be able to be critical readers of...documents with apparent bias?

5. be engaged and open-minded—but discerning—readers and listeners
value evidence--There is the word ENGAGE again. I think real texts and real writing is the most engaging work we can give kids. There are many adult readers who are not discerning (take a look at the bestseller list) from a literary perspective. This is not meant to diminish the reading of popular works. Heck, I love pop culture, pop music, and popular reading materials, too. And we want kids to be good listeners? Then perhaps the state legislatures, politicians, and architects of curriculum need to be the models teacher already are.

6. use technology and digital media strategically and capably --solve the problem of ACCESS first and we will have taken a giant step forward in this arena. And not just access for kids, access for their teachers. When I walk into a school (even my own university) and see outmoded equipment, I know the playing field is still not level.

7. come to understand other perspectives and cultures --one of the best ways to begin is by sharing books from other cultures. Lots of them. Not just American lit and Brit lit but world lit. The Exemplar Texts do not come close to this goal at all. The reading list would need to be much longer. And funds would have to be expended to place those materials in EVERY classroom (level playing field, remember?).

What I see here are not CCSS-driven results. These are the results of equal access to quality education. This education is not limited by a set of standards and anchors and texts. It should be as vast as the experiences and materials and the imaginations of the kids themselves. So, I will keep beating the drums. I will keep talking about the inequities. And I will keep speaking up for the teachers who are already doing it all and often without the support of adequate funding, political support, and recognition for the Herculean work they accomplish each and every day.
Tags: ccss, goals, truth
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