Earlier this year in one of Delaware School's teacher/parent open houses, where the parent is given the child's schedule and follows that child's schedule room by room, block by block, one single parent anxiously anticipated seeing her child's English teacher. This parent had been an avid reader and throughly enjoyed her English classes growing up which turned her onto literature and writing.
After all the adults had finally wriggled themselves into the kids seats by sucking in their loose bellies, the teacher began with "this year I will be following the Common Core Curriculum."
She continued she had been educated in it over the summer in a number of seminars. "I don't really agree with it but I really have no choice. I was told that this is what we are going to learn, this has achieved results, and that results, bottom line, are what we are after."
Each day, she told us, she was to distribute the corporate-created handout and the class would then read it together, go over it for meaning and technique, and then write paragraphs at the end of each class.
Near the end of the session this parent raised her hand.
"Will they be reading any literature, and if so, which historical period is it that they will be reading?"
"Umm, that's a great question" was the response. "I hope as it gets close to the end of the year, to sometime pull out a book for extra credit if we get ourselves through the curriculum, but right now, the curriculum is so well organized that we have to follow it exactly until we get to the end. Hopefully, then, we can do something interesting. I read some good books over the summer and I would love to analyze that with the class."
"Was it 50 Shades of Gray?"
"Ohh, I did read that. i, umm, loved that book."
Well that is what happened last fall.....
This January the grades came out. And I happened to be talking to this mother's daughter.... "Oh, wow, you really dropped in English. That was your best grade last year? What's different?
"It's SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boring.!" "Last year we were performing Romeo and Juliette, and actually writing Sonnets, poetry, Haiku's and reading and discussing some really great stories. "
"What is this year like?"
"We get this paper and it is sooo boring. Just like reading those things on the DST (Delaware State Test), where they have one paragraph and you have to answer questions about that paragraph."
"What are these paragraphs about? Aren't the topics even interesting? Like Literature? "
"They are soooooo stupid. Here is today's... i was sooooo bored I forgot to turn it in.... "
"Inventory" was almost here. Miguel had to count all the product on his shelves. He didn't have time. In the morning deliveries came and had to be stocked and rotated. Once he opened his doors, he had to handle customers, and never was a time that no one was in the building. Then in the evening, he had to stay to make sure his evening shift was running smoothly. His assistant came in at five, and Miguel would wait to make sure all staff was present and accounted for, that no manpower shortages would occur, and that all equipment was working properly, before he could leave. He started every day at 5 am..."
WRITE THE NEXT SENTENCE
WHAT IS THE KEY POINT OF THIS PARAGRAPH
WHAT IS THE AUTHOR TRYING TO SAY
WRITE A 5 PARAGRAPH TEXT ON HOW YOU WOULD SOLVE MIGUEL'S PROBLEMS.
From Shakespeare to this..... This is Common Core, ladies and gentlemen.
This approaches the most basic, lowest common denominator level of educating students to the barest minimum. Whereas you may look into this story for additional insight and perspective as one would be prone to look to literature for the same, and if you did, you would be marked wrong.Because the answers expected here, are not profound. Common Core is asking students who have never run a grocery store or even been employed, to fill in the last sentence of something that is entirely alien to them. None have ever taken management 101. At most, their only experience with time-management was balance two homework assignments in the same evening. The correct answer to the question asking for the key point of this paragraph, (drumroll please), is..... "Miguel doesn't have time to do inventory". If you had said, "Miguel needs more help", "Miguel needs to hire more people", "Miguel should fake inventory,""Miguel has an all-nighter coming up soon", you would be wrong with a big red X. There is nothing open to interpretation here. Common Core is always right.
You are beginning to see the problem here. Common Core went to employers to find out what was missing in the education pieces in what they were receiving. My guess one of them was a manager.. To "him", this is a big dilemma: no time to do inventory because of all ones regular duties. To "him", overcoming this problem was the biggest challenge in his early career. I'm sure he means well when he puts this problem down for all to consider.
To "him", the subtleness of Marc Anthony's speech in Julius Caesar, is completely lost. After all, it is irrelevant to his world, which consists of putting product on a shelf and selling it to neighborhood customers.Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is the reason today I fight so hard for democracy, and understand why democracy and autocratic competence are always in opposition... It was when i was in this little child's grade that I read that and then stood in front of my class as did everyone else, and recite...."Friends, Romans, Countrymen. Lend my your ears." (I always wanted to hand out plastic Mr. Potato ears to the entire class and have us all throw them at the first person who got up to recite....)
We are creating a nation of shelf stockers who will never think past "first let me put up this can, then next, I'll put up that can, and then I'll put up another can." Right now I can hear Steve Martin saying "that person hates cans!"
America needs shelf stockers. But I think society is made better when those shelf stockers do what they have to do to make a living, and then go home and write their novel....
Just as Budweiser got watered down to broaden its appeal to non beer drinkers who would balk at a Dogfish IPA 90. Just as television dumbed down it's comedy so even the most stupid would still tune in just to see tits and ass; just as newspapers write on a 8th grade level to sell more papers to those who can understand what they are discussing, .... the success we currently see on Common Core taught class tests, is simply there because no un-watered-down knowledge is required. The tests are created so simple that everyone will pass. If of course, they are given the "right" code and "know" the "prompts" for the "correct" answer to each question that will be asked.....
We are not educating America. We are turning off America from really learning...."But you do so well on taking the tests," I said!
"Oh, the final exams are only 10% of the grade. The classwork is the other 90%. And I'm pretty good on tests. I can tell which is the right answer by reading how they ask and how they offer the answer, even if I have no idea of what they are talking about. "
Wow. I had no idea it was this bad.
So, guys. what are we going to do about it?