Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

Common Core Parlor Games

     Kelly Gallagher asked for submissions for publication with an IRA reading group. My effort was passed over. Carol Jago and Common Core supporters got published. They did not like the criticism?  Here is what I wrote.

As Common Core begins to infect state after state, there is concentrated effort by the media –backed by the educational testing complex- and non educators like Arne Duncan and David Coleman to justify its existence. They are getting plenty of help from those who are peddling the myth of failing schools and the need for more standards. These buskers always try to distract us from the real issues.  The Common Core supporters want us to play parlor games and debate the percentage of fiction and non-fiction. The Common Core folks ignore two big issues.

First, there is no need for more standards and no need to divert hundreds of millions of dollars each year to them.  Common Core is being justified from the empirically false notion that our schools are broken and that teachers are the problem. Is there any evidence to support this? No. Quoting Dr. Stephen Krashen , “The mediocre performance of American students on international tests seems to show that our schools are doing poorly. But students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools rank among the best in world on these tests, which means that teaching is not the problem. The problem is poverty. Our overall scores are unspectacular because so many American children live in poverty (23 percent, ranking us 34th out of 35 “economically advanced countries”).
Poverty means inadequate nutrition and health care, and little access to books, all associated with lower school achievement. Addressing those needs will increase achievement and better the lives of millions of children.”

NAEP scores and graduation rates are at record highs. Is there any evidence that we need Common core? Again, the answer is manifest. Is there anything wrong with the standards states already have? Nope.

Secondly, Common Core folks never want to mention the massive amount of testing that comes with the standards. Testing will increase in every state that was suckered into these standards with federal bribes and bullying. Some argue that the cost of testing is small but testing costs include all of the cottage industries that thrive off of the educational testing complex. States will spend millions on computers and more on upgrades as years pass. This is just one small part of the costs involved in testing. Don’t forget all of the infrastructure, consultants, practice books and assorted materials. A recent Pioneer Institute report said that initial implementation would cost tax payers about $16 billion.

We already have tests to measure us against ourselves (NAEP) and tests to measure ourselves against the world- PIRLS, TIMSS, PISA. Florida high schools test around eighty- yes 80- days a year. This will increase under Common Core.  Do we need more testing? Nope. A simple solution is to expand and revise NAEP, making it the ONLY test our kids are required to take.

Is there any relationship between test scores and national security or economic competitiveness? Nope.  The US ranks consistently high on the economic competitiveness scale from the World Economic Forum (usually in top 5). The US recently dropped a little to #7. One reason noted was the troubling relationship between government and private corporations- think Common Core.

It is amazing that groups like AFT, NEA, NCTE and the IRA have joined non-teacher David Coleman and non-teacher Arne Duncan to allow our schools to be hijacked by the educational testing complex and the myth of a standards problem. These groups are in bed with those who would destroy public education like Jeb Bush, Tom Luna, and Michelle Rhee.

There is always some false crisis being sold. The idea of raising standards sounds good but it simply means an ongoing manufactured crisis. The educational testing complex must be fed.  The same folks who lied us into NCLB are back with a new poison- Common Core. It will cure all that ails you! Common Core testing will make NCLB look like the Halcyon Days

Stop trying to argue how many pieces of fiction or non-fiction can balance on the head of a Common Core Pin. Start telling your elected officials that we don’t need Common Core or the massive testing that comes along for the ride. Please read the excellent study by Dr. Chris Tienken called, “Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making.” Let me share a bit of what Dr. Tienken said.

“… the major arguments made by proponents in favor of the CCSS collapse under a review of the empirical literature:”

I could not agree more. When will we stop scapegoating our schools for the ills of society? Probably never since the big money is on the side of the “scapegoaters.”

Born of a lie and baptized by charlatans, Common Core and its massive testing must be stopped. The “Seattle Revolution” which saw teachers and students coming together to opt out of useless over-testing must be our Lexington and Concord moment. If AFT, IRA, NEA and NCTE fail to lead we must reject them and start anew.

Dr. Gary Gallagher (History Professor at UVA)  is fond of saying something that fits the Common Core supporters perfectly. He says it must be “liberating” to argue without evidence, because you can say whatever you wish.”


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