professornana (professornana) wrote,

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The courage of our convictions

A couple of weeks ago, Alfie Kohn posted some incredibly important thoughts about courage. Here is the link to the article:

This paragraph stopped me cold as it stated bluntly much of what I had been trying to say on this blog. "... professionals in our field often seem content to work within the constraints of traditional policies and accepted assumptions -- even when they don’t make sense. Conversely, too many educators seem to have lost their capacity to be outraged by outrageous things... They fail to ask “Is this really in the best interest of our students?” or to object when the answer to that question is no."

One of the people who has exhibited courage here is Diane Ravitch. I admit that I was one of her critics when she was supporting the policies of NCLB. But I admire her courage for admitting that she as wrong and for becoming an outspoken critic of politics as usual in education. For this, she has been branded a "witch." And this is, of course, reflective of the nature of the discourse of late. If someone disagrees, call them names. Jeb Bush did just this recently. Others have also chimed in. If anyone dares to criticize CCSS on any grounds, then they must be somehow evil, wrongheaded, stupid, etc.

One of the things I have been musing about of late ties CCSS and AR. When folks were critical of AR, there was such backlash against them. Betty Carter was questioned after she had a piece published in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL which dared to point out its flaws. AR was championed because it had test cores and numbers to "prove" it worked. The fact that it worked had little to do with the nit-picky multiple choice questions that kids took after reading a book. The fact that the research was conducted by the company that sold AR was largely ignored. AND the fact that AR became THE reading program in some schools was also dismissed. People defended AR by saying it was being misapplied. I hear the same argument about CCSS. Its defenders say critics are not reading it right, that they never intended this or that, that it is being implemented incorrectly. If all that is the case, why can we not STOP now and drop back and see what is lacking and wrong in CCSS (and there are many educators who will have something to say about this, trust me)?

As we celebrate Banned Books Week, we need to have the courage to stand up and fight for what is right and good for kids. That will take some courage. But if we hide our eyes and pretend that we have no power to make changes, then I think we fulfill those expectations. What model are we, then, to the kids in our charge? We need to talk the talk and walk the walk. In doing so, we can empower the kids as well as our profession. Courage!
Tags: ccss, courage
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