At the Chalk Face -
by Mercedes Schneider,
A very good thing will happen on Sunday, July 13, 2014, at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Los Angeles: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be debated on the floor.
No behind-closed-doors killing of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) resolution opposing CCSS. As Politico states:
Weingarten, for instance, has repeatedly said she supports Common Core, but she also made a deliberate decision to allow a long public debate — which will be livestreamed online — on the standards. She has said the AFT is a democracy and will adopt policies favored by a majority of members, even if that means a dizzying about-face on the Common Core.
I spoke with CTU President Karen Lewis on July 10, 2014, about my concern that CTU’s anti-CCSS resolution would be somehow stifled. I learned that Lewis was instrumental in pushing for an open debate on CCSS.
There is another AFT resolution in support of CCSS. The supporting resolution assumes that CCSS is good, if only it were properly implemented. Sound familiar? As Politico notes:
The AFT will also consider a resolution — drafted by its executive council — asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring. An even more pointed resolution flat out opposing the standards will also likely come up for a vote.
In order to preserve CCSS, AFT members are being offered a financial enticement to “rewrite” CCSS:
The American Federation of Teachers will open its annual convention Friday morning with a startling announcement: After years of strongly backing the Common Core, the union now plans to give its members grants to critique the academic standards — or to write replacement standards from scratch. …
The grant program does not need a vote from the membership to take effect. Union officials say they expect to begin distributing grants worth about $20,000 to $30,000 this fall. Local and state affiliates are eligible for the grants; AFT officials are encouraging applicants to build coalitions with parents and civic leaders, though teachers are supposed to lead the work.
Ironically, the grant money will come from the AFT Innovation Fund formerly financed by Gates to the tune of $4.4 million and doing exactly what he financed: “to work on… the Common Core State Standards.”
Aside from the Gates intention being fulfilled, however, there is a much greater problem with teachers’ “rewriting” CCSS. CCSS is a product owned by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Thus, any content labeled “CCSS” belongs to these two organizations that control the CCSS license. Furthermore, any content in CCSS becomes static– one-size-fits-all, inflexible, unable to be adjusted– except by permission of the CCSS license owners.