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Monday, December 16, 2013

The Common Core Cliff Notes...

 But better.

The title of this book may seem like an exaggeration (based on Stephen King's, Children of the Corn), but it the easiest Common Core primer yet. Nielsen's voice is that of a friend or trusted colleague. He speaks the truth in an easy-to-read style, and it is a quick read. Read Diane Ravitch's, Reign of Error, for a scholarly look at detailed facts based on her sharp analysis of US Department of Education website data & political knowledge. Read this to easily put the puzzle pieces together. 
Nielsen notes the 3 parts of the Core that tie everything together:

1. The architects of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
2. The standardized testing that accompanies the CCSS.
3. The privatization movement that that closes "failing" schools and sells them to charter operators.

One note: When he writes "poor" or "urban" public schools, mentally replace with "ALL" public schools. 

Nielsen writes, " Why are we telling our state education leaders that it's okay that Timmy hates school and can't come up with an original idea, but he sure can pass the end-of-the year test like nobody's business?...Why are we telling our state governments to use our teachers and our children as pawns in field tests and other schemes that are disguised as education?...Of course, we are not telling them any of this..."


"Our schools have been quietly taken over. We are no longer teaching the skills and concepts that our kids need for the complex, unpredictable, 21st century; we are increasingly teaching the skills that billionaires want their workforces to have in order to boost their profits. Gone are the days of creativity, personal growth, teamwork, and dreams; here are the days of nationalized pigeonholing, segregation, and dysfunction."

You may think this is hyperbole, but read the book to find out why Nielsen's resignation letter went viral. It is hard to believe, but this stuff is really happening.

Here is a sample from his letter:

"I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive ways to steal that time, under the guise of PLC [Professional Learning Community] meetings or whatever. I’ve seen successful PLC development. It doesn’t look like this.

I will not spend another day wondering what menial, administrative task I will hear that I forgot to do next. I’m far enough behind in my own work.

I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes that are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students have IEPs, yet I’m given no support.

I will not spend another day in a district where my coworkers are both on autopilot and in survival mode. Misery loves company, but I will not be that company.

I refuse to subject students to every ridiculous standardized test that the state and/or district thinks is important. I refuse to have my higher-level and deep thinking lessons disrupted by meaningless assessments (like the EXPLORE test) that do little more than increase stress among children and teachers, and attempt to guide young adolescents into narrow choices."


Our kids called, they want their schools back.
Read the book.