Common Core Is Authority On Steroids

Peg with Pen wrote yesterday about a product offered by the designer of Common Core, David Coleman (more from me on that here, “Occupy Common Core Standards“).

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.
She goes on to detail the program and ends this way.
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

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. 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.
I responded on her blog:

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.

Sir? (Carpenter)

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.

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  1. Storm September 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Peggy responded:

    Ah Storm…why you always gotta do that ??? 🙂 A comment was just posted on my blog on FB – this is what it said, “This is now being imposed on our schools. You should have seen the veritable ARMY of representatives that CollegeBoard sent to our school board meeting to make sure that the deal was sealed! People who had been through many textbook adoptions said they’d never seen anything like it.” This is full throttle takeover. It is my humble opinion, Storm, that teachers such as yourself, and myself, and the many others who read this blog, must be ready to pick up the pieces and create the schools children have always deserved. Teachers have always been their own worst enemies. At this point, I do not have great hopes that we will win – the corporate takeover is hitting us from every angle. I have not given up and will NOT give up – but, many of us, are now preparing for the aftermath…and when the masses wake up, we must be ready.

    To Which I answered:

    I believe there are two kinds of good teacher: 1) a teacher who LOVES and accepts all children and has time and space and care enough to allow a safe place for development; this teacher encourages all attempts to discover and learn and feel and dream; this teacher encourages encouragement–in ALL their charges–so that all students together encourage all other students. This teacher may still say “yes” to the rules of the system and culture, but always puts the stress on the single being caring for other single beings. If the choice is between the “greater good” and the care of the single being, she chooses the single being. 2) is a teacher who is intellectually antagonistic to systems and abstract laws that serve the socially approved “ways” of living and acting and speaking and even thinking. This teacher talks about the system as if (as it is) it was a THING to learn outside of what might seem natural. This teacher agrees that society needs rules to operate but that these rules must always be challenged and confronted with a conscientiousness that, again, privileges the single being’s perception of what is a right/just (?) way to be. This teacher always asks another question and encourage students to ask another question even if an answer can’t be found. To understand that answers are often arbitrary even if socially acceptable.

    Two great teachers may also be found in one kind of teacher. But these teachers need to be in elementary school in droves. We must find these teachers and offer children the perspectives that will allow them to care about each other, challenge power, but know how to operate within power without losing a sense of individual value and caring.

    And yes, the current public school will be destroyed and machines will be the only implement allowed. And all information will be stored.

    I would be tempted now to advertise a pencil and paper school as a kind of nostalgia. Surely there are still folks that want to use tangibly manipulable objects to create “identity” badges like writing and drawing? Surely there are folks who want to play instruments and not manipulate sounds on a computer.

    We will need to help each other in this new world.

  2. focus September 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Common core changed recently in Illinois also. I see my children’s teachers coping with budget cuts, last minute changes to curriculum, increasing class sizes and I honestly don’t know how they do it. They are fortunate to have teachers than embody both styles of teacher characteristics you mentioned. I think they would appreciate more time with the kids though. I do think my children are learning. They are exposed to music, literature, art. Not enough art in my opinion but at least it still exists as part of the curriculum.
    They are still expected to learn handwriting and cursive. But the school struggles financially. We are not ripe for these corporate takeovers as it is a parochial school–perhaps you can consider it has already been taken over by a corporation, an ancient one, known as the church. Lots to think about.

    1. Storm September 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      Well, yes, you are part of the take-over because religious folks are predisposed to following authority; but also because the voucher program has almost single-handedly revived Catholic education.


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