Hello and welcome to the beginning of another work week. Since Mondays are the only true posts I can express my opinion, I’m taking today to ‘vent’ about some of out and out propaganda we’ve all had thrown at us when it comes to education in general and/or Common Core and all that it entails.
Textbooks in the middle of a political ad campaign:
Not directly about CCSS, but somewhat, is the current ad war between Hagan & Tillis in NC for a US level seat in Washington come November 2014. Now, I need to point out, I am IN no WAY endorsing any candidate here. I’m merely pointing out a fallacy both are using to cast light on a problem that’s not really a problem.
The ad war subject? Textbooks aren’t in the classrooms! One of the biggest ‘trumps’, if you will, is the ‘I don’t have textbooks’ or “textbook funding has been cut.” These come from one side of the fence. The other side gets a retired teacher to expound upon the pivotal plight of the textbooks and teachers and how great it all is. Both sides are misinforming the voter! Textbooks aren’t in classroom, that part is true..BUT look at the source (hint: it isn’t the General Assembly), it’s across the Plaza, the NC Dept. of Public Instruction! Why no textbooks?! Digital ones via the computer. (See our NC Session Law2013-12, formerly HB44 where it states the transition was to begin from traditional to digital) So while it could be very shocking to the dear voters who cannot imagine school without a book in your hands, that’s exactly the point. The books are NOW literally, in your face, via the computer screen. For the most recent Budget Highlights for NC Dept. of Public Instruction, “Classroom Materials/Instructional Supplies/Equipment =$43,813,919 Textbooks =$23,169,585” (it breaks down to somewhere between $25-30 per student for materials and around $15.00 per student for textbooks. (source: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2014highlights.pdf) According to state legislation, General Statute 115C-98 “The local board, at all times, has sole authority and discretion to determine whether a challenge has merit and whether challenged material should be retained or removed. (b2) Local boards of education may:
(1) Select, procure, and use textbooks that have not been adopted by the State Board of Education for use throughout the local school administrative unit for selected grade levels and courses; and (2) Approve school improvement plans developed under G.S. 115C-105.27 that include provisions for using textbooks that have not been adopted by the State Board of Education for selected grade levels and courses. All textbook contracts made under this subsection shall include a clause granting to the local board of education the license to produce braille, large print, and audiocassette tape copies of the textbooks for use in the local school administrative unit.
(c) Funds allocated by the State Board of Education or appropriated in the current expense or capital outlay budgets of the local school administrative units, may be used for the above-stated purposes. (1969, c. 519, s. 1; 1981, c. 423, s. 1; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 1074,
s. 23(a); 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 716, ss. 8.7, 19; 2011-145, s. 7.13(e); 2011-391, s. 14(b).) Just to be clear, Article 9 of the NC State Constitution is titled “Education” and explains the power of the State Board of Education; General Statute 115 explains HOW the power is to be used. So, while one thinks ‘it’s’ the boss, ‘it’s’really a team effort. Want to know where the textbooks are? Ask the State Board of Education!
Most of these are used in conjunction with Common Core, STEM, STEaM, Next Generation Science Standards, the new Social Studies Standards, and on and on.
My favorite list of ‘buzzwords’ and their meanings comes from the website: http://www.illinoisloop.org/buzzwords.html Here are my ‘favorites’ (by that I mean the ones that drive me the craziest or that I’ve heard so much I mock!
“Critical thinking skills” , used as a phrase to render ‘rote memorization’ stupid & a time waster. Research shows kids are quite able to hone critical thinking skills, but critical thinking is a GOAL, not a way to teach! It is the end of a process that takes years to build and mature. Saying it in a sentence such as ‘Children are using their critical thinking skills implies that type of thinking can be pulled out of thin air & needs no maturation to use.
“Relevant”, as in, “Common Core makes me a better, more relevant teacher to my students.” It implies the teaching before CC wasn’t relevant at all, that is was outdated, therefore it must be trashed. What it really is conveying, ‘a set of standards that has people appearing to be more concerned with their image than real education.’ (the website’s version wasn’t so nice)
“Mile wide & an inch deep isn’t what school should do!” UGH!! Sounds like the school will be ‘digging deeper’, right? Nope, what it really is we can only focus on a few things, especially projects! Projects are great, but shouldn’t take the place of real learning.
“Lifelong learning”, in the scope of Common Core, it’s meant to give you, the parent a great feeling that your child will enjoy school and learning SO much, they’ll always keep learning. Ha! According to the website, it really means, the Standards don’t instill love of learning as much as ‘here’s a computer, go look it up!’
“Robust, rigid”, I’ve heard these so much, I want to scream! We’re using adjectives designed for food or furniture NOT education! ‘Robust’ conveys, at least in educational contexts, ‘uncompromising’ or ‘sturdy’. What ‘robust” really means through an educational context, since education IS a process: tedious and lengthy system. As far as in the context of a person, the word means ‘strong & healthy’. While I wish every person being educated were strong & healthy, the reality is they aren’t. So why, one word is used for all, I’m not sure, but when you have Standards that educate ‘one-size-fits-all’ I guess one word is to fit everyone as well.
“Rigid” or its cousin, ‘rigorous’. Appalling use of the word by placing it in an educational setting! “Rigor” means ‘difficult or unpleasant conditions usually associated with something bad.’ As far as what we’re were SUPPOSED to think it meant was, I think, ‘strict, exact and careful.’ Yeah, right, CCSS, all that?! Not hardly! As far as ‘rigorous’? I don’t think any student should have this one thrown at them as a ‘good thing’. Exhaustive, tedious, strict, inflexible or stringent is what the word REALLY means! Military bootcamp, ‘rigorous’ definitely is appropriate, not Kindergarten classes!
I’m sure you have words surrounding the ‘new & better’ Standards (and all its minions). Leave a comment & share your ‘buzzword’ you’d like to see ‘zapped’.