I recently had the unfortunate opportunity to examine a SpringBoard assignment, sent to me by a concerned parent with a child in seventh grade. SpringBoard is the latest and greatest curriculum creation of The College Board which is led by no less than David Coleman, the well known architect of the Common Core.Their website states, “SpringBoard is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards and helps all students and teachers reach the goals of the Common Core Initiative. The Common Core Standards provide the “what” in the form of required achievements for students. Curriculum materials must provide the “how” to help students achieve the standards outlined.”Ch Ching.
As I said earlier, [the traditional] Writer’s Workshop is a messy yet highly organized teaching process. It cannot be jammed into a curriculum nor can it be force fed to children. The results of this assignment are easy to anticipate – children will treat this like any other good worksheet. They will do what they need to do in order to get the grade and they will not engage (how could they?) and then they will run as quickly as they can from any mention of future writing experiences.This, you see, is the new world of the Common Core. We must oppose it, refuse it, deny it, defy it, f$#@ing expose it for what it is whenever we can by educating parents and teachers about the profit to be made through the creation of nonthinking, soul destroying worksheets such as these. This is not simply a set of standards – it is a set of standards designed to allow corporations the ability to create common children via common curriculum and common assessments which will be used to drain our public schools of money as they attempt to abide by the guidelines of Race to the Top. There will be more tests – many more tests – as Common Core infiltrates our schools and profits billionaires while privatizing public education. The expense will be immense and will assist in the profiteers’ plans to starve the public schools while using our tax dollars to dismantle what is left. Their goal is to move as quickly as they can, take as much as they can, before we wake up and realize we’ve been screwed. SpringBoard is simply one example of many more to follow.And the casualties? The children of course. Always, the children.
While you are of course correct in all of the above, probably the question most (if not all, even your readers) parents might ask is, how is this different than other directions for school processes?
I think many of us who are or were teachers have a sense that what we are losing is a kind of “risky autonomy,” a space of possibility that can prompt the wholly untutored “self-discovery” by the students (and that reveals an opportunity for growth in the teacher as well).
The scripts are simply getting tighter and tighter and straying from the script is no longer acceptable and instead is punishable.
So, what this, again, as you know, is another method of control to reduce the “unknown” that might happen in a classroom, in a relationship, between student and teacher.
It is further an expansion of authoritarian control; further still it is an expansion of “expertise” that will create further distance between the parent and the school (and between the child and the parent) by offering rules the parent cannot understand that the child must learn and apply. In other words, no parent will help with homework in the correct way.
But, though this is indeed Power on Overdrive, it is a difference only in degree and not in kind and this is why parents on the whole would not even know why it should be opposed. Who’s ever experienced freedom in school?
So, what we must argue for is (sorry, Henry), at once, NO SCHOOL, not a a better school. But in this I mean, no large, district-or-state-managed schools.
If people are to ever be able to be “random” they need a structure that will allow this kind of freedom.
Teachers (and I am one and so feel this as well) want their own freedom too. But a school is a system and it requires that there is no freedom. Even our “advanced” students are not free, they are simply given different instructions in what their future can be within a separate rule-structure.
As E.F. Schumacher offered a long time ago, Small is Beautiful. More than likely we, in our towns (probably not in our cities which are too beholden to systems of bureaucratic operation on every level, and not too mention corporate influence), will need to reconfigure the “good life” for ourselves and our children.
But that means we have to start saying NO to almost everything at once.
Ahab might order up a Common Core Man:
…I do deem it now a most meaning thing, that that old Greek, Prometheus, who made men, they say, should have been a blacksmith, and animated them with fire; for what’s made in fire must properly belong to fire; and so hell’s probable. How the soot flies! This must be the remainder the Greek made the Africans of. Carpenter, when he’s through with that buckle, tell him to forge a pair of steel shoulder-blades; there’s a pedlar aboard with a crushing pack.
Hold; while Prometheus [the blacksmith] is about it, I’ll order a complete man after a desirable pattern. Imprimis, fifty feet high in his socks; then, chest modelled after the Thames Tunnel; then, legs with roots to ’em, to stay in one place; then, arms three feet through the wrist; no heart at all, brass forehead, and about a quarter of an acre of fine brains; and let me see — shall I order eyes to see outwards? No, but put a sky-light on top of his head to illuminate inwards. There, take the order, and away.
The Predictable Human is the goal of all progressive and conservative thinking. This is the goal of culture; this is the goal of all management.