Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rotten To the (Common) Core

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has warned that the future of the nation depends on the Common Core standards. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for writing them, evaluating them, and promoting them.

On the other side are grassroots groups of parents, teachers, and principals who say the standards were written in stealth, imposed by the lure of federal billions, and implemented too rapidly. All testing must be done online, so the standards are a financial bonanza for the testing  and computer industries.

But the mass media mostly ignored the controversy until Louis C.K. starting tweeting about the subject and talked about it on David Letterman. Not only does Louis have two daughters in a New York public school, he has 3.3 million followers on Twitter. Suddenly the world woke up, and Louis' tweets were reported in Salon, Politico, and dozens of daily papers and websites.

My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)

Teachers are underpaid. They teach for the love of it. Let them find the good in cc without the testing guns to their and our kids heads.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)
My favorite responses have been adults proudly announcing that they were able to solve these problems from a 3rd grade test.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck)

Arne Duncan labeled complaining parents as "white suburban moms" who were disappointed to discover that their children weren't so bright after all.  Teachers and principals were ignored when they complained that the new federal tests were confusing and had multiple right answers.  No one paid any attention when Pearson, the giant test publisher, put a gag order on teachers forbidding them from revealing the contents of the tests.  No one cared that teachers couldn't help their students when they weren't allowed to discuss what they got wrong on the tests.  Maybe Louis C.K. will get people to listen.

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