"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

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

What to Ask Your Child's Teacher on "Meet the Teacher Night"

Ask your child's teacher how this letter might fit into the common core standards assessment at "Meet the Teacher Night".

If you don't have enough time to specifically ask questions about Common Core standards in your child's classroom on "meet the teacher" night, make an appointment with the teacher and/or principal to talk about exactly what these mandates will mean to your child's education.  Your school board probably won't have a town hall meeting about these mandates (mine isn't), so ask the teacher and/or principal directly.  You need to know what is expected of your child in the classroom.  It's quite different than just learning the three "Rs".

The blog below is written by a teacher.  He's extremely concerned about his students, Common Core standards ramifications on those students, and the fact his hands are tied about what he is allowed to teach.

Take a copy of his words to your child's teacher and principal.  Ask his/her opinion on Meet the Teacher Night 2012.  Ask the principal and teacher if they agree with this teacher's take on the Common Core standards.  If they disagree, ask them to give you reasons why they disagree.

I teach fifth grade in a small suburban K-6 district and last night was our meet the teacher night. I had several options before me,  give my standard  spiel on my procedures and expectations , explain the new Common Core State Standards, or educate parents on how, so called , education reform, will really affect their children. I had to decide whether or not I was willing to choose this mountain to take a stand.

Please keep in mind, I work in a very conservative  Republican district.  It is so conservative, that when President Obama gave his famous speech to students at the start of his first school year as president, I was given a directive not to show that speech to my students.  After much debate, I was threatened with insubordination charges if I dared to show that speech.  ( Just so you know, I read the speech to my class, I posted President Obama’s picture with an excerpt from the speech in my classroom, and it’s still there since 2009.)

After much contemplation as to  what to present to parents, I decided to do all three.  I went for that mountaintop. I  give a quick run down on procedures and expectations. I then explained the new Common Core State Standards, and went on to  educate them on how, so called , education reform, will really affect their children.

I explained to these parents that this year will be like no other. I went through how the Common Core assumes that their children have skills  that they don’t have yet. I explained how they must robotic-ally  answer questions with specifics from texts while leaving out their own personal feelings. Because as David Coleman has stated, no body gives a sheet as to what you feel.  I explained how their children will have to learn a new expanded math curriculum and that I need to teach more than one lesson a day at times, because there aren’t enough days to teach 1 lesson per day before the ‘big test’. I told them that learning how to divide fractions is now not enough, their children will have to create models to demonstrate how that actually works. All because someone thinks that’s what is done in the real world.

When I described how New York State now has a new teacher evaluation program called APPR, I could see some parents were quite uncomfortable. I then explained to them that APPR will rob their children of lesson time. I showed them how I must take attendance 5-6 times each day to collect data , and how at 1 minute each it would rob their children of the time equal to 9 lessons. I then informed that of all the testing that their children will have to endure and that is designed to test teachers  rather their children. I told them that their children could lose up to 90 lessons this school year due to APPR tests, data, training, grading and more.

Our school was labeled a “Reward School” this year. That means that out of over 4600 public schools in NYS, our school was one of approximately 230 that were rated at the very top. Despite this, we are being treated as if we don’t know how to teach, our teachers must be evaluated to weed out the possible ineffective ones, and their children are not doing well enough.

I informed these parents  that it was time for them to get involved. It was time to step up and contact those at the state level that this path we are on is leading the wrong way.

Needless to say, there were some parents who were quite upset.

Hopefully not with me. It looks like it could be a wild ride this year. Stay tuned.

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