From a HS Teacher to College Profs: Why the Common Core Is Bad

A blogger named “thequotableyeti” provides a high-school teacher’s warning to college professors about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Though she or he starts out a little unkindly toward us, the points made are important.

After the complaint, the blogger begins with a very good point:

The common core purports to make students college and career ready.    While the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Pearson contributed vast sums of money to the creation of them,  as far as I can tell,   very few college professors were consulted. [my bold]

That has led, I argue, to standards and methodologies that are woefully out of date–in English, at least.

The blogger agrees:

My main criticisms of the Common Core are as follows:  First, that it takes a weirdly quantitative approach to reading novels in that the standards are overly concerned with the structure of literature and the actual words on the page, not with tracing the development of symbols and metaphors.    In an article in scholastic,http://frizzleblog.scholastic.com/post/10-things-worth-doing-your-classroom David Coleman provides ten helpful insights in how to teach novels the Common Core way. In number four he admonishes teachers to “ Only draw conclusions that can be substantiated by the words on the page. Scrape away terms like “metaphorical,” and talk as simply as possible. Once you bring up metaphor and meaning, kids are out of the game.”     So by David Coleman’s metric the mockingbird in To Kill a Mockingbird was just an annoying bird that would occasionally sing and was a sin to kill. Maybe the streetcar in a Street Car Named Desire, was just a streetcar -and Holden Caulfield just wore his hunting cap because it was cold outside, and Proust just went on and on about a cookie-for no reason what so ever.      If you think your students aren’t great at recognizing symbols now -imagine how much worse they will be five years from now.

Read the post. Here again is the link.

3 thoughts on “From a HS Teacher to College Profs: Why the Common Core Is Bad

  1. The piece by this high school teacher is terrific.

    But I am always saddened when someone who so obviously deserves to be treated as a colleague describes incidents in which tenured faculty have self-indulgently denigrated anyone and everyone whom they can possibly regard as inferiors.

    Putting aside that such behavior exposes a shallowness that one would hardly associate with professional accomplishment, I have essentially given up on convincing these people to change their attitudes, and I am close to reaching my limit on trying to apologize for their boorish and unforgivable behavior.

    So let us grant that a few of our own colleagues are undoubtedly incompetent or irresponsible– or just assholes (I recognize that I have just violated parallelism, but I can’t come up with an adjectival form of “assholes” that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole).

    Let us also agree to stop condoning with our silence–by our lack of objection–snarky categorical comments about other teachers– whether they be K-12 teachers, community-college faculty, adjunct faculty, faculty at less prestigious institutions, or faculty in other disciplines.

    We are all facing much the same, often overwhelming challenges. Let us therefore save our scorn for those who are ideologically bent on either obstructing or providing destructive alternatives to what we see as the most workable and constructive strategies for addressing the issues that we face.

    Let us start demanding that all teachers be treated with respect–unless and until they have been proven, as individuals, to be incompetent or irresponsible.

  2. Thanks for the share of my post. To be absolutely fair, while people have actually said all of the things in my first paragraph, it is intended to be a bit tongue cheek(except for that Walter Benjamin guy-seriously?) Some of my best friends are instructors and graduate students; before I became a high school teacher, I dropped out of a graduate program. I think what is interesting is that education under attack at all levels-particularly the humanities. I’m not sure that people value the idea of scholarship. Across the board, there seems to be an idea that education should be run like a business and that our students are commodities that we are supposed to pour knowledge into-that the only real outcomes are things that can measured. In high school, it’s test scores, in college whether or not you get a job afterwards that directly relates to your major. I would guess too that temporary contracts are on the rise in universities, just like at secondary schools-as fewer teachers are getting tenure. Like you point out, we share many of the same struggles.
    The whole common core thing is probably worse than you think. I’ve been to trainings where the consultant assures me that my students will never read on their own-and that they don’t need literature because it won’t be a “reading demand” in their work place. When I bring up objections to the test, I am told “We’re not here to debate the philosophy behind the test, but to talk about how we can get our students to pass it.” If the vocabulary I have my students practice isn’t “domain specific” or “academic vocabulary” they ask me why students should learn it. If I am evaluated based on a literature lesson, my admin asks me how I can measure the outcome, their favorite question is: “How do you know that they know?”

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.