Semi-Pseudo-Sort-Of Plan


A few days ago I wrote about the many challenges facing new teachers and considered whether, if I were a new teacher today, I’d be able to work under a similar system of strictures.  My answer was about as wishy-washy as they come: Yes, but I’d probably hate it.

I lay most of this tension at the feet of the Common Core State Standards, which have been foisted on the public and their schools as the salvation for the broken education system.  Never mind that the myth of the broken education system, like the recent fiscal cliff debacle, was created by the very people who have the most to benefit from it.  And never mind that the standards themselves were largely created by non-teachers.  And never mind that the standards constrain possibility rather than expand it.  And never mind that the standards are the foundation for the most extensive series of high-stakes tests the world has ever seen.  Never mind all of this, because now, fallacy or not, teachers are stuck with them and they’re doing the best job they can with a truly lousy situation.

The Common Core proponents, meanwhile, continue to hammer away at their supposed quality and rigor, brushing aside criticism with a frankly awe-inspiring combination of hubris and denial.  “It’s all about the kids,” they say, because we all know how much kids love standardized tests.

I’ve often considered putting together a list of all the pro-Common Core myths with an eye to debunking each of them.  Fortunately for my lazy arse, Kris Nielsen has done a much better job with it than I ever could.  On his blog he’s currently writing a three-part series about the Common Core disaster, and his just-posted second part is (or should be, at least) the gold standard in Common Core criticism.  If you’re a teacher – or interested in public education – read it, save it, and drag it out whenever someone tries to tell you the Common Core is going to save us all.  In fact, the truth is that it heralds the end of public education as we know it.

Kris Nielsen: Reality Check: This Is How Democracy Ends – Part II


Current listening:
Phantogram eyelid
Phantogram – Eyelid Movies (2010)

4 thoughts on “Semi-Pseudo-Sort-Of Plan

  1. Being a beginning teacher (3rd year) I couldn’t agree more. I am lucky enough to have the ability to adapt. I can’t explain other than I come from a family of teachers, it is in my blood, it makes sense, and I could teach anything if you gave me a week to study.

    But when talking to my peers who have just started their careers, they are panicked, stressed, overtly teaching to the test without child consideration (which I don’t blame them since this is the meat and potatoes of their evaluation…How did your kids do on the test?), and a million other stresses that are brought on by over testing, over standardizing, and under explaining.

    Great thoughts and I will continue to follow,

    Mr Matt Pieroni

    • Thanks for reading, and for your thoughts. I’m in teacher education now, and I’m always interested to hear how things are going in other places. I’m amazed at how different the landscape looks now compared to what it looked like when I started in ’95.

  2. I hear this same sentiment from those around me and I can’t help but think, why do you do it? Luckily, I know the answer for most is we are driven to it but….

    If you weren’t a teacher, what other career would you choose?

    • It’s a great question. I work with preservice English teachers now (most of whom are a semester or two away from student teaching), and I always tell them I got into teaching for the same reason most of them are getting into it: I loved reading and writing but knew the (slim) likelihood of making a living by being a writer. It’s not enough to make a career of.

      I wasn’t great in my first couple years, but I knew pretty quickly that this is what I was meant to do. And I got better. I took advantage of the chances I had to play and experiment, I collaborated with colleagues I knew I could trust, and I was ruthless in my self-reflection.

      And of course I came to see that A) there’s no other career as rewarding as this one, and B) by teaching well my students would meet any of the expectations set by standards and tests. My goal now is to help my beginning teachers understand that their primary goal is to teach students, not standards, and that if they teach the way they should be teaching, the standards and tests will take care of themselves.

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