In my hands I am holding the latest issue of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) quarterly publication, American Educator. It is open to page 43, Tools for Teachers: 10 Myths About the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The piece was written by AFT’s Educational Issues Department.
Their position is one of unreserved support for CCSS.
I find it remarkable the degree to which AFT and Randi Weingarten will go in order to protect and promote CCSS. One of the more telling pieces is a post Weingarten wrote for Huffington Post entitled, Will States Fail the Common Core?– As though CCSS is a personality, complete with feelings that will be hurt by states’ betrayal.
In that post, Weingarten maintains that CCSS is “not a silver bullet” but that the problem is not with CCSS but with “bad execution.”
Here’s a question– How can Weingarten state with such certainty that CCSS is not the issue? Has she or anyone else piloted these so-called standards?
If CCSS is “not a silver bullet,” why have neither AFT nor Weingarten herself published anything remotely appearing to be a critical evaluation of CCSS, standard by standard, grade level by grade level, for both English Language Arts (ELA) and math?
Now that would be a critical examination.
Instead, the AFT/Weingarten tact resembles that of the Fordham Institute’s President Chester Finn, who states that CCSS is “not perfect” and even grades it accordingly–then promotes it without reservation.
Ergo, the AFT propaganda, 10 Myths about the Common Core State Standards.
CCSS Is Not Meant to Stand Alone
An important component to making this propaganda work involves divorcing CCSS from other reforms. After all, by itself, CCSS more easily appears innocuous. However, do not forget that in June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA) promoted a set of “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments” as part of a larger reform package that includes teacher evaluation/pay for performance, “turning around” schools (i.e., handing traditional public schools over for charter operation), and building data systems.
These reforms are meant to be a set.
The federal government was at that 2009 NGA symposium. US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan endorsed the spectrum of reforms and even commented about “more enlightened union leadership” in regard to the NGA effort.
CCSS is a critical component in the vehicle of American education privatization. So, don’t be distracted by AFT/Weingarten insistence of the innocence of this single reform component.
No carburetor alone ever drove a car off of a cliff. No flint alone ever burned down a building. No bullet alone ever shot a human being.
However, introduce the carburetor, the flint, and the bullet as components of a given destructive system, and each contributes toward an end result of destruction.
That, my friends, is CCSS: A component of a dangerous, NGA- and Duncan- (and Aft/Weingarten-) promoted system.
In its 10 Myths, AFT steers readers away from CCSS as part of an intended reform system. I cannot emphasize this enough.
For now, let us consider what AFT is promoting in each of its 10 “myths.”
AFT Myth One
In Myth One, AFT maintains that “the standards tell us what to teach” is a myth. AFT regurgitates the oft-heard CCSS slogan that CCSS “defines what students need to know.”
Where is the evidence for this? What students need to know for what? The outcome assessments that PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia are throwing together? PARCC is supposed to field test this school year, as is Smarter Balanced. Florida dropped out as PARCC’s fiscal agent. Maryland took over, as a “favor to Obama.”
AFT maintains, “Teachers will have as much control over how they teach as they ever have.”
Says who? AFT cannot guarantee this, and AFT cannot prove this. What they are trying to say is that the inflexible, copyrighted CCSS allows for teacher freedom within the classroom.
On one level, AFT is right:
Most prisoners are allowed to pace inside their cells.
What teachers don’t get to do is modify CCSS based upon their own expertise and for a given set of students in a given class in a given school in a given district in a given state.
One size fits all. And AFT’s answer: You could always pace, and you still get to do so. Pay no attention to the fact that you’ve been placed in a cell.