Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Constructive Dialog (or Don't Let the Tin Hatters Get You Down)

While my friends and family might not believe it, when I am on groups on FB discussing Common Core, I am daily accused of being pro CC and weekly accused of being a paid troll. 

FB groups offer a wealth of information.  Whether you choose to just read the articles and watch the videos posted or if you choose to engage in the discussion, these groups present so much more than one person can find independently. 

But, there are a lot of people out there presenting false claims.  Here's a few reasons why:
  1. They are mama bears.  Many posts carry the weight of all the writer's parental emotions. On some level, I can't blame them!  But, while those emotions give us drive and connect us, those statements do not propose real solutions and sometimes cloud judgement.
  2. They aren't teachers.  Being a teacher myself, I understand that if a teacher isn't sending a workbook home, it probably isn't to hide propaganda from parents.  Its more likely that the workbooks are getting back to school when needed, or that parents are too involved with homework, which gives invalid data off which to base instruction.  This is not parent bashing.  Its no different from me not knowing why any other profession does his or her job a certain why because I am not trained in that field. 
  3. They are misusing the term Common Core.  I am guilty of this one.  The Common Core State Standards is merely a document listing standards (goals about learning) for students.  Examples from the Kindergarten standards are to recognize all the upper and lowercase letters and to add fluently all the numbers under five.  Notice there are no mandated methods to use to teach this or materials required to use.  Also notice that as of 2014 there are only math and literacy standards.  Furthermore, notice that CCSS does not mandate standardized testing, using test scores to evaluate teachers and schools, or data collection.  Those are actually part of Race to the Top. 
  4. They are taking other people's words for it.  Whenever we see a claim about anything, especially on the internet, we need to think about it critically.  Who is publishing this information and what are their backgrounds and motives?  Have all claims been supported?  What is the credibility and validity of the evidence?

 Here are some comments that are my personal pet peeves. 
  • Super short comments like: SMH, outrageous, unreal, awful, horrific, so glad we home school now, CC must end!  These bother me because they bring nothing to the discussion.  Also, these people often seem to only be on board just to hear other like-minded people agree with them.  No one learns anything when everyone just agrees and parrots the same comments over and over.   
  • When when a person says she will pray for me when I don't agree with them rather than having a conversation about the topic.  I find it arrogant and insulting to assume my religion affects my ability to understand education reform.  Sometimes these are also the people who make comments about what should be taught in schools based on their own religion, ignoring the fact that separation of church and state says that is illegal. (Speaking of church and state, I am also annoyed by people who think because I believe in separation of church and state that I support violations of students rights.  I don't want teachers promoting a religion.  I could care less if your kid prays as long as it isn't disrupting learning or being used to hurt another student).
  • Anything using the assine word "sheeple."
  • Statements that all the standards are horrible.  Come one, really?  All of them?  Get specific. 
  • Statements that CCSS mandates things it does not. (See number 3 above). 
  • Claiming something to the effect of "I am not your personal researcher" when I ask for evidence to support a claim.
  • Inflammatory comments often using the words: Hitler, indoctrination, propaganda, child abuse, communism, Agenda 21, troll, etc. 
  • Comments such as: "My brother with a PhD in [fill in field] couldn't do this worksheet."
  • Claims that teachers are hiding something, such as hidden agendas or data mining.  Go right ahead and question your school's practices.  Pressure them to give real responses and evidence to support those choices.  But don't think the root of every pedagogical choice is conspiracy. 
  • Assumptions that because something is happening in once place, or even many places, it is mandated to happen everywhere. 

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