Common Core Cheerleaders

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There clearly is a lack of research and evidence regarding the efficacy of the Common Core Standards but even more troubling is the absence of state level leadership. There is a great difference between a nationally recognized Common Core cheerleader and a respected, responsive, and trusted public education leader.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NY Education Commissioner John King should be less concerned with leading the nation when it comes to Common Core implementation, and much more focused on leading and learning from New York State teachers.

Some ed reformers have equated the Common Core with the Civil Rights Movement, but if they want citizens to take this claim seriously, then they must stop issuing marching orders and start marching and working alongside students, parents, teachers, and school administrators.

How can Commissioner King suggest the Common Core is as historic and momentous as the Civil Rights Movement and not have his children fully participate in it? When questioned about the decision to send his own children to a private Montessori school, NY Education Commissioner John King replied;

“It’s not about public versus private, it’s about finding the right environment for your child.”

Kristen V. Brown, “King explains decision to send his kids to  private school” 12/9/13

Commissioner King has a credibility problem when it comes to the choice of a private school for his own children, and this undermines his ability to effectively lead and champion efforts to reform public education in New York State.

John King insists that the Common Core Standards are essential to ensure that K-12 public school students have the skills they will need for college and careers, yet he sends his children to a private Montessori school with a different set of standards and curriculum that are aligned to 8 broad education goals including;

To foster open minds, compassion, and respect for others

To instill in each child a sense of duty and personal responsibility for the world in which we live

To spark in our children imagination, wonder, humor, and joy”

John King’s credibility further comes in to question when he criticizes parents for opting their children out of Common Core assessments, yet he sends his own children to a school that does not administer all the assessments and views parents as partners and equals…not as problems.

“To enter into a partnership with parents in the education of their children

Commissioner King claims that he is concerned about students opting out of the Common Core tests because there will be a lack of meaningful data regarding how they are progressing in school, yet the leader of his own children’s school discounts the reliability and validity of data from standardized tests…

“Two weeks ago I attended the New York State Association of Independent School (NYSAIS) Heads of School conference. This conference featured Yong Zhao, an author and professor at the University of Seattle…

Zhou says that investing in testing will only create good test takers, and test scores are not valid predictors of success. If we invest our resources in tests, we will get good test takers; if we spend our time celebrating and encouraging our variety of abilities, creativity, and diverse thinking we will better help our students succeed…

Test scores are a poor reflection of what our students could be learning and distract teachers from the real work of helping students to discover, be curious, work collaboratively and interact with each other in meaningful ways.”

Susan Kambrich, “The Value of an Education that Promotes Creativity” 11/25/13

King and other reformers maintain that the Common Core are standards and not a curriculum and these standards don’t tell teachers how to teach. If that is the case, then parents in NY State should have the option of sending their children to public Common Core Montessori schools.

If the Common Core “ensures” that students will have the entry-level employee skills businesses so desire why did Commissioner King have to convene a meeting of business officials to tell them to speak out more in support of the standards?

“King urged a roomful of corporate decision-makers to support the tests and, more importantly, the new Common Core approach to learning embraced by New York and 46 other states… 

We need the entire community to support the standards,” King said Thursday during a talk hosted by the Center for Economic Growth.

At the end of the hour-long discussion, CEG Executive Director Michael Tucker urged those in attendance to sign a pledge saying they would support the Common Core by writing letters to the media and generally talking up the concept.”

Rick Karlin, “State seeks business backing for new tests” 5/23/13

This Civil Rights analogy just isn’t working for me, unless you can imagine Martin Luther King, Jr. calling together local church leaders because he wanted to see more passion and participation in bus boycotts and marches.

It is difficult to take these Civil Rights claims seriously, when NYSED has been concerned with supporting the right of Pearson to maintain the secrecy of it’s assessments while restricting the free speech rights of teachers to talk about them.

Earlier this year NYSED submitted a waiver renewal application to the U.S. Education Department requesting more flexibility with respect to standardized testing of learning disabled students..

NYSED is applying for a waiver to allow school districts to administer the general State assessments to these students with disabilities…

When students with disabilities are required to participate in an assessment at their chronological age significantly misaligned with content learned at their instructional level, the assessment may not provide as much instructionally actionable information on student performance or foster the most prudent instructional decisions. For these students, State assessments do not provide meaningful measures of growth for purposes of teacher and leader evaluations.”

Update on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Renewal Process and Related Amendments – BR (A) 6 January, 2014

On 7/31/14 The Huffington Post reported…

“New York students with disabilities will be held to the same academic standards and take the same standardized tests as other kids their age next school year, the U.S. Education Department said Thursday, spurning the state’s efforts to change the policy.” 

Joy Resmovits,“This Will Make Some Special Education Advocates Really Happy” 7/31/14

Perhaps Commissioner King, NYSED, and the Board of Regents are starting to realize they have been on the wrong side of the Common Core Civil Rights Movement.

Time will tell whether New York State will continue to lead the nation and many of our students will be forced to sit and stare through another round of Common Core assessments or will Commissioner King and NYSED finally stand and lead New York’s students and teachers?

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