Futures and Hopes on Slippery Slopes

This blog will be a little more personal than what I am accustom to writing. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that when the reform movement began to cripple public education, I took it on the chin and kept marching. The changes weren’t easy, but the reality is that there will always be change, and I needed my job. When the education reforms began to affect my children, my attitude changed. I began to fight back.

I am the father of a twelve year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome who entered pre-K reading, at four years old. By age five, he regularly engaged in Q&A with our family pediatrician about Science. You could name any mammal, and he would tell you the continent they primarily could be found, the climate they preferred and what they ate. The standards began to trickle into the classrooms, and the first year of transition to Common Core Standards was his fourth grade year. He changed.

Our district chose to use the horribly inadequate Math curriculum, Eureka Math. From pre-K to mid third grade, he had excelled in Reading and Language and was above average in Math. Suddenly, he was failing Math. His demeanor changed. His confidence dropped. He became an introvert. In fourth grade, he failed Math, but it didn’t prevent him from advancing to fifth grade. In fifth grade he passed Math with the minimum points needed, and that was the year he was diagnosed. He has received ABA services for a little over a year, and he passed the sixth grade, with plenty of room to spare. He is gaining his confidence, and I am starting to see my child, again.

I am also the father of a seven year old daughter. She is jolly. She is bright. She is inquisitive. She is sharp as a tack. And, she can’t read. She entered pre-K and had a very normal year. She loved school. She loved her friends. She loved her teacher. By the third week of kindergarten, she began to ask me each morning if she had to go to school. Her school day consisted of zero “learning from play,” the only thing she did with a pencil was circle objects that started with the given letter (minimum 10 sheets/day), and 64 sight words she was expected to recognize by the end of kindergarten without ever having been taught individual sounds, in a logical order, and how to put them together to make words. She is entering second grade, can’t read, and she knows it.

Supporters of Common Core have stuck to their guns saying that we need to set the bar higher, and Louisiana students deserve high standards. Louisiana doesn’t need to go backwards. Opponents of Common Core have provided, time and time again, research backed evidence that the standards are inappropriate, inadequate and create an unprecedented level of frustration in our young students.

No professional educator or responsible parent believes that we shouldn’t have high expectations for our children, but plowing forward with a failing agenda that has nothing to predict its success other than “we believe it will” statements is just dumb.

The legislature inadvertently opened the proverbial “can of worms” with the passage of SB275 which requires cursive writing to be taught in elementary schools. The bill’s author was simply responding to a constituent’s complaint that he couldn’t find any help that could read historical land titles. “Why aren’t we teaching cursive?” She asked when introducing the bill.

Testimony was given in that committee meeting by retired teacher and education activist, Lee Barrios. Barrios stated that she fully supported the teaching of cursive writing, but she warned the committee that by legislating curriculum, they were creating a slippery slope. Guess what? It is slippery, now.

The legislature approved the “revised standards” with almost no revisions. We now have a mandated third grade curriculum that has no scaffolding to support it in K-2. Think this is the only occurrence? No, it isn’t. There are dozens and dozens of foundation building standards that have been deleted and many 2nd and 3rd grade standards moved down to kindergarten and 1st in the name of raising the bar. Don’t believe me? See for your self.

Click here to see my testimony to the Joint Education Committee.

Click here to see a detailed comparison of the ELA Common Core Standards and the “New Louisiana Standards.” Less than 3% changes. By the way, Governor Edwards, those aren’t substantial changes. (Comparison done by Dr. Beth Meyers)

Click here, and here, to see the West Ed Crosswalk which details the standards that were deleted.

Here’s what we need to do. We need to raise the bar. We expect the legislature to report to their respective chambers and do their jobs, but they can no longer use the stairs, or elevators, to get there. We deserve legislators with high standards.

AskJBE

2 thoughts on “Futures and Hopes on Slippery Slopes”

  1. Unfortunately he agreed to the new standards. My perspective though is that the standards controversy, poor as they are, has been and were designed to be a distraction. The real issue is the high stakes assessment used to fire teachers, fail students and privatize schools. White will not let go of it unless it drags him overboard. It is our job and our priority to make sure the assessment, mandated by ESSA is no longer punitive but constructive. When our accountability system is redesigned for the purpose of improving education rather than destroying it, the standards, nonexistent curriculum and will return to sanity.

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