professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Please Mr. Postman or My Hero, He Wrote Me a Letter

Dipping back into 60s rock for the title of the post today. Letters are powerful things whether we are learning how to string letters together to make words and then sentences and finally paragraphs. Anyone who has watched a child crack the code and figure out that the black squiggles convey meaning and there are rules for how that meaning is conveyed; any kid who has used invented spelling to get a message across (how many of us have those tucked into albums or now on our camera roll?); any person who has ever been so disappointed, angry, or hurt who has written from the heart (and many tomes torn the letter up after the writing has taken care of the feelings bubbling over): they all know the power of letters.

And so, imagine the feelings that flowed through me as I read the letter from the NC Lt. Governor who has 67 questions he would like answered about CCSS. Susan Ohanian posted this at her web site this morning: It was a powerful start to a Sunday that saw BH and I back at Mass after a bit of a hiatus due to my travel schedule of late. Sixty-seven questions in 7 broad categories: Standards, Cost, Data, Governmental Role, Technology, Impact, and Contracts and Grants. That is about 10 questions per category, and each one questions something that has been published, stated, or printed about CCSS to date. While I suspect there will NOT be 67 answers forthcoming, the questions are sound ones to ask.

As I entered church, I was thinking about this letter and the questions initially. The wonderful thing about Mass is that I am soon consumed by thoughts a bit more soothing and less troubling. Readings today included the tale of Martha and Mary with the sermon focusing on, "what is the better thing to do?" And so after the service, I was back to thinking about how the sermon merged with some of the Twitter conversations this morning about CCSS and this letter and some of the discussion questioning ANY implementation of CCSS. Teachers are, understandably, frustrated. On one hand, they are being told that CCSS is the law of the land so to speak. On the other hand, they see its flaws, problems, shortcomings (whatever you care to call them).

I know I am in the catbird seat (and I had to pause to look up the origin of that phrase; it was Thurber) because I am at a university in a state that did not adopt CCSS (we have other crosses to bear, mind you; you are, perhaps, familiar with our governor?). However, as I write my blog about books (you DID know I have one of those, too, right: and speak to groups outside of Texas, I am in the position to talk about CCSS and I do when requested. I also worry beyond my own confines. I worry first and foremost about the kids when it comes to this flawed set of standards (and make no mistake, there are flaws here especially when it comes to what is developmentally appropriate and how many standards one must cover daily to get them all in during a school year while still prepping for the tests, talking about pleasure reading, reading aloud, sharing, conferring, etc.). I worry about the next generation, the one that will, I hope, take care of me in my dotage. Will they develop empathy, I wonder, from reading a steady diet of nonfiction? Will they care about people other than themselves (something that I think books cause us to reflect upon as we read)? Or will I be "released"? See, I have some questions, too.
Tags: ccss, questions, susan ohanian
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