From Debbie Pelley:
Last week a “conservative” proponent for Common Core was interviewed on a local radio station. She spouted the same line that other proponents, legislators and governors everywhere are using to combat critics of Common Core. She repeatedly said Common Core doesn’t tell districts and teachers what or how to teach and challenged listeners to read the standards for proof of that.
The standards are just one component of Common Core so proponents can cleverly point to those standards and say there are no methods or subject content required. But there are several other Common Core components that do indeed control what teachers teach, how to teach it, when to teach it and how the classroom is to be arranged.
Teacher evaluation is the latest and probably the harshest component of Common Core. The Arkansas State Department of Education developed this evaluation, and the Legislature passed it into law, Act 709 of 2013. Under this law, “teachers would be placed in ‘intensive support’ status if they score unsatisfactory rating in any category.” Teachers who “cannot satisfactorily complete plans to be removed from ‘intensive support’ could be subject to termination.”
The principals can no longer evaluate teachers based on their own professional knowledge and expertise. By law, they must evaluate the teacher on the things the government has outlined. The evaluation model adopted by Arkansas, which is written by Charlotte Danielson in “Professional Practice, A Framework for Teaching,” indicates the teacher must do many things (more than 20) contrary to traditional education.
• Show genuine enthusiasm for Common Core content [whether teacher feels it or not — this stifles teacher’s freedom of speech, values, and experience] p. 69
• Indicate which Common Core standard is being taught that day [to prepare students for the PARCC test that is aligned with Common Core standards, thus controlling curriculum since teachers can be terminated for low student test scores.] p. 173
• Arrange seating in circles or groups — [as opposed to the traditional straight rows.] p.76
• Use a great amount of group learning [most often where students are divided into groups of 4 or 5 and work on a project with all getting the same grade. Some of the students do all the work and the others do nothing. This method emphasizes the collective and socialism over the individual and is the hardest structure in which to keep discipline…] p 72 & 173
• Welcomes suggestions from “specialists” and invites them to help in planning lessons and methods. [“specialists” often have far less education and experience than the teacher, but instead are specialists in methods Common Core is promoting] p. 115-116
All these methods are repeatedly taught in staff development ([teacher training). Teachers are required to attend several days of this forced indoctrination which could be compared to sensitivity training for so-called homophobes. One reformer summed it up this way: “‘Breaking the mold’ means breaking this system [traditional education], root and branch.”
Then there are the grants that bribe states and districts to participate in Common Core. To qualify for a share of Obama’s $4.35 billion Race to The Top (RTTP) grant “18 states changed teacher-evaluation laws, in some cases explicitly tying the legislation to ‘Race to the Top’ requirements.”
(Obama’s educational reforms were first called Race to the Top (RTTT) and soon morphed into Common Core. There is serious talk about changing the name of Common Core since so many people now oppose it.)
Arkansas’ application for a $374 million RTTT grant included national Common Core of Education standards and tests (PARRC), math instructional programs across the state and many other changes that Washington favors. Forty-six states developed comprehensive education reform plans to apply for RTTT grants, and 34 actually changed laws or policies.
Arkansas didn’t win a RTTT grant, but the changes stayed — just as they did all over the nation. Obama said he wanted change, and he got a lot of bang for his bucks with $4.35 billion RTTT grants. I wonder just how many other changes Obama has been able to leverage with the full $100 billion (taxpayer money) dedicated to education reform from the stimulus fund?
Obama’s Common Core educational reforms are just about as complex, as destructive and as voluntary and affordable as Obamacare! And it is a shame that so many legislators, parents, and leaders are being deceived.
Debbie Pelley is a resident of Jonesboro.