Saturday, July 6, 2013

Smoke Screens in Education Policy

I just got myself worked up over education policy again. I've got to stop doing that. The thing is, a woman who is smart and thoughtful posted an article about how the Common Core will level the playing field for all students and that teachers love it.

No it won't and no they don't.

The Common Core doesn't level anything. It sets barriers like the walls Repubs want to build on the Mexican border. Like those walls, anyone with money will get through and many will profit getting others over. There will be winks and a nods as people are passed through despite the expectations. The Common Core doesn't fix anything, but it sure looks impressive.

As for teachers wanting the Common Core, a group on Facebook, provoctively called The Badass Teachers Association, has 21,000 members in three weeks. Some in the group support aspects of the Common Core, but most do not. Of those who support them, they usually are opposed to the standardization of education and to all the standardized testing. How anyone thinks there can be standards without standardization and standardized testing is beyond me.

The Common Core sells to the public because it solves a problem people have been taught to believe. It goes like this: education in this country is in trouble because kids aren't being taught the way you and I were taught in schools. Kids aren't being taught well by all those teachers who get summers off and are paid too much and have a damn union protecting their rights to be lazy. There are so many bad teachers that real change is impossible. The Common Core Standards make it impossible for lazy teachers. They won't be up to standards and will be fired. The unions, having bought into the Common Core, will have to agree to let those sucky teachers be fired. In the end, all children will be above average, the economy will soar, and rainbows will arch over the country forever!

I mean who can argue with rainbows?

In truth, the problem isn't that kids can't learn or teachers can't teach. I live a few miles from a school at which most kids perform at the highest levels. They compete with any kid in any country. Over ninety-percent go to college. They take AP and other college courses by the boatload. They murder the SAT. They don't need the Common Core because that stuff is way beneath them.

Closer to my home is a school that graduates just over forty-percent of the kids and no one would mistake half of those graduates for the best or the brightest. Dropout rates are horrendous, test scores are pathetic, and the SAT scores aren't anything good to write home about.

So what's the difference?

According to the Common Core arguments, the high-flying has great teachers doing the Lord's work while school that is crashing and burning must be staffed by lazy bastards who wouldn't know how to teach shoelace tying.

But that's not it.

The high-flying school is incredibly wealthy and the crashing-burning school is excruciatingly poor. Parents are involved in the successful school while parents work third shift at the failing school. Success is in the suburbs and is predominantly white. Failure is in the middle of the city and a shade darker.

The Common Core is a smoke screen meant to hide that we intentionally harm poor students through local funding of schools. We do not have an education problem in this country, we have a poverty problem. Until we're ready to solve that problem, don't talk to me about that Common Core crap. You're just wasting my time.

Write on.