Carol Burris, Principal of South Side High School in New York, and New York’s 201 High School Principal of the Year (School Administrator’s Association of New York) wrote a scathing piece for the Washington Post this week. Burris rips apart the Common Core test, Congress, Governor Andrew Cuomo and high-stakes testing in general, while making a case for opting out. Principal: There Comes A Time When Rules Must Be Broken… That Time Is Now: is a long read, but it is worth every bit of your time. Even if you do not reside in New York State, the themes run through most every state that is subject to the Common Core. Here are a few exerpts:
It has become increasingly clear that Congress does not have the will to move away from annual high-stakes testing. The bizarre notion that subjecting 9-year-olds to hours of high-stakes tests is a “civil right,” is embedded in the thinking of both parties. Conservatives no longer believe in the local, democratic control of our schools. Progressives refuse to address the effects of poverty, segregation and the destruction of the middle class on student learning. The unimaginative strategy to improve achievement is to make standardized tests longer and harder.
And then there are the Common Core State Standards. Legislators talk a good game to appease parents, but for all their bluff and bluster, they are quite content to use code names, like the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards, to trick their constituents into believing their state standards are unique, even though most are word for word from the Common Core.
The only remedy left to parents is to refuse to have their children take the tests. Testing is the rock on which the policies that are destroying our local public schools are built. If our politicians do not have the courage to reverse high-stakes testing, then those who care must step in. As professor of Language and Composition, Ira Shor, bluntly stated:
Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!”
Last year Shor’s son, who attends school in New Jersey, joined the estimated 60,000 New York students whose parents decided that they had enough. That number will grow this year as billboards urging parents to Refuse the Test pop up across the state.
Burris also predicts what the endgame of standardized testing truly will be; the death of public schools…
Both the policies and rhetoric around high-stakes testing has made the real agenda very clear—the purpose of Common Core high-stakes testing is to replace our locally controlled public school systems with charters, on-line schools and private schools funded by vouchers, while creating a constant churn of teachers whose work is reduced to test preparation.
We have seen this in Florida already, which was one of the pioneers of high stakes testing thanks to Republican presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush. We have already seen the beginning of an opt-out movement, and it is sure to gain steam in the months ahead. New York has already seen veteran teachers speak out against the test, while others refuse to administer the Common Core to their students. Burris has several excellent points throughout her post, too many to mention in this blog.
While the opt-out movement builds, the state of Arizona is one step closer to getting rid of the test once and for all. AZCentral.com reports that the House Education Committee passed a bill to repeal the Common Core, known as the Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards. While the bill still must pass through the legislature, this is a huge step in resetting Arizona’s standards back to where they were in 2010:
HB 2190, which passed 5-2, would revert to the standards that were in place before Common Core was adopted in 2010. The bill still must make its way through the Legislature.
The state Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards, renaming them the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. The standards set grade-by-grade learning goals for English and math.
The vote came after three hours of testimony. Many opponents said the standards, adopted by most states, are federal overreach and make math too complicated. Several supporters said Common Core is better than the previous standards.
Fifth-grade teacher Brad McQueen of Tucson, a frequent critic of Common Core, testified against the standards.
“There’s chaos in the classroom,” he said. “If the standards were written by Shakespeare or Einstein, I still wouldn’t like them because they’re not Arizona standards.”
With more states moving toward repealing the standards, it’s time that we made a national push to let Congress, President Barack Obama and his accolyte, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan know that we want the Common Core removed from our classrooms. Check back for our petition calling for the Common Core to be abolished!