professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Just another form of censorship

The headline for the post read: TEACHERS FACE RETALIATION FOR CRITICIZING COMMON CORE. I would not have thought it possible except for recent conversations with teachers from a wide array of states who report that they have been, for all intent and purpose, silenced. I understand the need to be a team player, to follow district procedures, and the like. But the edict that no word may be uttered questioning a curriculum that had little (none, really) teacher input, that was handed to districts nationwide, and that has some serious flaws? That is censorship.

The folks I worry about the most in this situation are the teachers new to the profession. During a talk back to CCSS session at NCTE, the question was raised: how can new teachers voice concerns and be heard without being fired? The question has come up time and again as I talk to preservice and inservice educators. Many are feeling helpless (and how far away is hopeless then I wonder?). Of course, there is no blanket answer here. But I would like to make a few suggestions.

Maybe it would be good to keep a list of problems encountered when utilizing the materials that have been mandated for meeting the standards. Are there some standards that demand something that is developmentally inappropriate? Do some materials seem confusing (see this post from Diane Ravitch: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/12/11/amy-prime-what-is-the-right-answer-to-this-test-question/)? Are materials used in the past being removed from the classroom, district, etc?

Demand that your professional organizations become more critical. I have been supremely disappointed in some of the responses to CCSS on the part of AFT, NCTE, and IRA in particular. I need my professional organizations to represent my concerns, to speak out about the flaws in CCSS. Unfortunately, too many of the organizations seem to be climbing on board the CCSS bandwagon. I hope they have some spare parts for when the wheels come off as they surely must down the road. Write letters to the heads of these organizations. Express your concerns. Talk about how implementation is going awry. Describe student reaction. If the response is not forthcoming, express concern in a different way: cancel your membership.

Most of all, though, I would encourage you to speak up in any way possible. Express concerns at department and faculty meetings. Ask questions. Question decisions. I know it is not always easy to speak up, especially in light of possible retaliation. But we must speak up for the kids if not for ourselves.
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