"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Experiment with Google.

Try an experiment. Google "charters must adhere to common core standards". See what comes up for you. Of all the gazillions of links that could have appeared, look what popped up on my screen in the number two slot (as of 01.12.10 @ 7:45 ET):

Final Report. - Senate Committee on Educated Citizenry 2020

PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
Dec 1, 2010 ... Missouri's education system must adhere to principles that will ... sponsor and is based on standards set in the charter with the ... national Common Core Standards. DESE is also collaborating with other states in the ...

This is what we've been blogging about and believe is a renamed Race to the Top document. Reading through it once again, I was struck by the language the committee used in the plan. See if you can spot by the language not included in the document:

As students move forward in their education, the education system must be flexible and
adaptable to meet the needs of all learners in an ever-changing environment. This may
include different methods of delivering education through such means as online learning
or alternative school calendars. As one witness noted, “Missouri should change the
structure of schools to reverse the present system in which time is a constant and
learning is a variable. It should be just the opposite, with time as the variable and
learning as the constant…It would recognize the very real fact that different children
learn at different rates. The speed of a child’s rate of learning would take a backseat to
his or her mastery of knowledge and skills.”

Witnesses reiterated the Committee’s priority of ensuring the highest quality teachers
for Missouri’s students. A witness stated, “Missouri’s teachers must be world-class if our
students are to succeed and compete with those from our neighboring states and
around the world.”

To maintain a strong system of public higher education, Missouri must be responsive to
the changing demographics of students pursuing postsecondary education. The
availability of options in higher education and the means to access those options are

The following seems to be paramount in this plan:

  • Education system needs to be flexible
  • Differing methods of delivering education needs to be offered, i.e., online, extended year
  • Children learn at different rates and these children must be taught at the rate in which they can learn
  • High quality teachers mean Missouri students will be able to compete more effectively on a world stage
  • Education is shaped by demographics, rather than demographics is shaped by education
What was left out of this statement and never addressed? The issue of curriculum. Educated Citizenry 2020 will NOT provide the autonomy to teach children at the rate each needs to learn, and in fact, Missouri will not be able to provide the curriculum that might be most appropriate for that child (reading level, for instance) because it has been set by a consortium of states and frankly, that teacher and child is out of luck if the child doesn't understand it.

The panel never addresses the reality of giving up our right to teach our children the material Missouri thinks appropriate. The plan is all about charters, alternative schedules, highly effective teachers and making sure the educational system bends itself to demographic realities.

What happened to curriculum? Was it just easier for the State Board of Education to give this problem to a unknown consortium with unknown professionals and wash their hands of decision making? And what about the legislators? Why are they allowing the handing over the education of our children to federal mandates? Missouri receives 23% of funding from the Federal Government for state education costs. We are selling out our children and their education for a paltry amount and a plan that doesn't address the real problems in public education.

If students "need the time to become the person they are meant to be in the time they are meant to be that person" (from Mr. Rogers), this plan can't accomplish it, even though it states that's an important intent of the plan. The common core standards don't allow that flexibility and the school district and state are held hostage by these mandates. It sounds like a laudable goal, but it is impossible to provide such an education based on the constraints of common core standards.

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