Cindy Lutenbacher is a teacher and DeKalb public school parent who sent me a note about her objections to the new common core standards. She was very thorough in her comments so I asked her to write a piece, which she did and which I ran on the Monday education page.
Enjoy. (To get another perspective, I am also posting another piece I ran on the education page in support of the common core standards by state Board of Education chair Wanda Barrs. That will post shortly.)
By Cindy Lutenbacher
Amid great fanfare in our state earlier this month, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced the release of the “Common Core Standards.”
So, I have a few questions for those who back the standards — including our own governor, Sonny Perdue, who co-chaired the Governors Association effort. In the general celebration over the release of these new standards, it seems very few people are asking what Common Core Standards will actually mean for our children. And that is a mistake because the Common Core Standards are simply the forerunner to even more (and likely worse) standardized testing.
Why are so few investigating the origin of Common Core, which is largely a creation of Achieve Inc., an outfit that is driven by a dozen or so governors and CEOs of major U.S. corporations?
What do these people know about educating our children? Why would we trust them? Why do we simply accept the claims of “research- and evidence-based” support for the creation of Common Core Standards? Why are we not doing as we were admonished to do during Watergate … that is, to follow the money? Where is this independent research, unattached to corporate monies?
In creating these standards, Achieve, the governors and the school officials ignored the vast body of truly independent research that shows such “standards” and their inextricably linked standardized testing are worse than folly and are sending our children in the exact opposite direction of what they need.
This group of very rich people ignored this body of research that shows that the single most powerful factor in education gaps is poverty and not standardized testing.
Did they forget that the United States has the second highest rate of children in poverty of any industrialized country in the world? In fact, these purveyors of Common Core disregarded everything that at least every great teacher I have ever known believes, says and lives in his/her classroom. What we should be doing in Georgia and the rest of the country is focusing on filling our classrooms with great teachers, rather than with thousands of new standards.
We should be supporting our great teachers, rather than driving them from our schools, as will certainly be the outcome of an even greater emphasis on testing. Why does anyone cite the “A Nation at Risk” report in pushing for national standards even though it’s been so thoroughly discredited? Where is the hue and cry over the million dollars that the Gates Foundation gave to the National PTA in order to promote Common Core?
Who appointed Bill Gates Emperor of Education?
Is money being spent, to borrow a Bushism, to “catapult the propaganda”? Or is that last question simply rhetorical?
The architects of these Common Core Standards did not seem to consider all the research that amply demonstrates that having access to a variety of reading materials and having the time and safe space with which to read are the factors that help children become readers.
Instead, the standards rely on the absurd drilling tactics advocated by the politicians and corporations happily taking our tax dollars for their testing and related materials.
Who is really getting the money from turning our schools into Common Core drill-and-kill testing factories? Will Perdue be willing to read the list of literary texts listed in the 183-page Appendix for English Language Arts and allow me to test him on them? Will Perdue even take the 12th-grade exit exams and allow his scores to be made public? Can Perdue explain to me how “Tartuffe,” Euclid’s “Elements,” Paine’s concept of “ground-rent,” and a bivariate polynomial have helped him in governing our state?
And in related news, we learn that Perdue has vetoed the excellent bill that would have saved millions of dollars for our state and, more importantly, released our first- and second-graders from the hideous spectacle of useless standardized testing. Will he be willing to sit in a desk with 30 other governors, who, like hapless 6-year-olds, will be forbidden to speak to one another and must suffer silently as they are endlessly drilled in preparation for the CRCT?
Furthermore, when will Georgia get a state schools superintendent who actually understands children and how they learn, rather than, for example, one who understands politicians and chambers of commerce?
Will the new superintendent be willing to sit obediently through first-grade test prep for Common Core Standards? Is there anyone, anyone, who actually believes that Common Core Standards and its murderous standardized testing will not lead to even more fanatical requirements that cause teachers to have to teach to the test? There’s no evidence that these “standards” will help my children be lifelong learners.
When will we as a state and we as a nation wake up to the destruction of our children that is being carried out under the sanctimonious and specious names of accountability and reform?
And most important of all, for the sake of our kids, when will we revolt?