Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)
Robert Burns, To a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)
Scottish national poet (1759 - 1796)
I thought about the opening phrase of Bobbie Burns' poem often these last few days. It occurred to me first when there was ice on the road on a day I was expected to drive to the airport for a meeting. Then, that ice thing again this week when I was supposed to be on campus for 3 meetings. Instead, I stewed about how to reschedule during a week with little wiggle room. As i pondered this short poem, though, other connections occurred. One was CCSS. Talk about some best laid plans going agley! The problem there was that all the planning was done by a handful of folks, people who do not have strong roots in the classroom. The grief and pain in lieu of promised joy rings rather true as well. I have yet to see the promised joy. I did see someone post to Twitter the other day that those who were being critical of CCSS most likely had not read the standards. There was a suggestion that someone who is being critical needed to have read whatever he or she is criticizing (would be that censors did that!). I simply posted that I HAD read the standards and I was still not on board. This rather blanket statement about CCSS is one that has been promoted by many. Somehow there is this feeling that those of us who see major problems with the standards need to read them again and get on board. Not. Going. To. Happen.
And then there were the scenes from Atlanta and other places in the South where kids managed to get to school, but thousands of them could not get back home due to weather conditions. My pal, Donalyn Miller, texted me this morning and asked how David Coleman might have "weathered the storm." Would he have survived the night in a school with hundreds of kids and had the wherewithal to cook them breakfast this morning? Somehow I could not see this happening either. Perhaps it is because of some other comments from Mr. Coleman about nobody giving a sh*t about what kids think or feel. I hope he took note at the number of teachers who not only stayed with the kids, but nurtured them through the evening and into the next day. I have not heard reports that any teacher declared that taking care of the kids was not part of CCSS and left to go off to the break room.
You see, we do what is needed. We might grumble under our breath (as I did when driving on icy roads to my meeting last week). We might mutter about schedules while all the while coming up with the best solution for everyone concerned. We are adept at the revise and resubmit, at the tweak, at the acceptance that something is not working and we need to stop and fix it before proceeding further. It seems a shame that the creators of the standards cannot seem to have that same mindset. It is almost as though the CCSS documents have been written in stone a la Ten Commandments. Here it is. Deal with it. Another image just rose unbidden: no more soup for you! It's funny when it is part of an exaggeration within a sitcom. Not quite as funny when we realize we are dealing with the lives of our children.