Finally, the worm is turning

Tom Dunn

May 7, 2014

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, the public debate about the educational value of the Common Core continues to grow, and, thankfully, it is growing more intense by the day. Finally, policy-makers are being intensely questioned about their foolish ideas, and as more and more intelligent, non-political people wade into the fray it seems that the dialogue is slowly changing from being centered on political agendas to educational reality. And all I can say is, “It’s about time!” While this focus on the Common Core is essential, focusing solely on that single issue overshadows another component that is just as important; that being the incessant testing being forced upon our schoolchildren for all the wrong reasons. In a recent article criticizing the “test at all costs” mentality that exists in education today, one educational expert suggests that nearly three years of a student’s educational career is now consumed by test-taking or test-preparation. THREE YEARS!!!! And we’re not talking about the tests you and I took as kids that a teacher administered to see if we learned the subject matter in a class. No, these are high stakes, state-mandated tests that determine a child’s (and a teacher’s) future, beginning very early in elementary school. And, the frightening thing is the Common Core is designed to INCREASE the amount of testing politicians are shoving down our throats. Any sane educator will tell you it is completely out of control, and worse, it is bad for kids. To get an expert’s view on the negative impact this obsession with testing is having on education, take a few minutes and read the article at www.districtadministration.com/article/testing-limits-testing. You will find more meaningful information in this two-page article than you have heard in months and months of political rhetoric about education “reform.”

The sad fact is, if you pay close attention to the policy-makers at the forefront of the Common Core discussion, you’ll never hear a single one of them so much as utter the word “kids” in their arguments. They are much too worried about defending their political platform than worrying about the poor people stuck in the middle of their nonsense. Instead of focusing on children, they spout words like “meaningful reform,” “rigor” and “accountability” as if they have stumbled onto the magic potion that will lead to our children’s future success. And, it’s all hogwash.

But, finally, FINALLY, the debate is beginning to change, and the people forcing it surely aren’t the ones who have created these mandates. No, finally, educators and parents alike who have stood by compliantly and watched this madness spread are speaking up and demanding that it stops. And, that’s how meaningful change will occur.

So, don’t be fooled by the political discourse we will no doubt hear in the coming weeks and months as the “experts” try to convince us of the value of the Common Core and the plethora of additional tests to which our students will be subjected.

Instead, read the article found at www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/04/today-was-the-first-day-i-was-ever-ashamed-to-be-a-teacher and you will have the entire debate framed for you unlike ever before, through the eyes of a teacher who has encountered the madness first-hand and who has witnessed the impact it has on children.

Then, maybe you will be motivated to join the fight to reinstate sanity to our children’s educational lives, too.