Principal claims she was naive about Common Core

March 4, 2013 3 Comments

Carol Burris, a principal in New York, was once a staunch supporter of the Common Core standards. She even wrote a book called  “Opening the Common Core,” on how to help schools meet the common core through a rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices. She wrote it because “we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity.”

“I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted.  The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.”

According the National Association of Scholars, a narrowing of the curriculum has occurred as schools and teachers have cut science, social studies, art and music in order to concentrate time and resources on tested subjects like math and English. The Common Core encourages this by placing literacy standards in all subjects and holding all teachers accountable for them.

Carol Burris shows what this flawed practice looks like in practice in a 7 year old’s music class:

I hear about those distortions every day.  Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children.  They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms.  Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music.  Here is a question:

Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

  1. to force someone to do work against his or her will
  2. to divide a piece of music into different movements
  3. to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
  4. to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top.  What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

I think that the reason for the quiz is evident to anyone who has been following the reform debate.  The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development. Probably, the music teacher believes she must do her part in test prep. More than likely she is being evaluated in part by the English Language Arts test scores of the building. Teachers are engaged in practices like these because they are pressured and afraid, not because they think the assessments are educationally sound. Their principals are pressured and nervous about their own scores and the school’s scores. Guaranteed, every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well.

Wake up educators, Common Core is turning your school into test prep factories to turn out skill-based workers for big business. Children need to learn more than what testing companies determine are the essentials of an educated mind.

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Mary Gormley says:

    Through grade 6 in music class I learned the following , which has enriched my for a life-time: simple songs often taken from the classics. the notes the scales how to read and write music,listening to good music and composer recognition, the names of all the instruments and how they contribute in bands and orchestras etc. I looked forward to music class twice a weel. I’m sure the stories of composers included “commissioning but we weren’t tested on that… We knew the teached loved music and loved us.

  2. Ben E. says:

    I would argue that the vocabulary mentioned here seems a bit advanced (and unneccessary) for a 7 year old. However, vocabulary in ANY field of study is essential. Language allows us to talk about the things we are learning, and every field has specific and specialized vocabulary. What if you just gave students an instrument and told them to play? You wouldn’t get very far. You would need to explain to them the concepts of “notes”, “measures”, “time”, “melody”, etc. These are all vocabulary words that students need to know in order to further their musical education. Learning vocabulary and using them in writing and speaking help us express what we are doing throughout the educational process. This is the reason for promoting literacy standards across all subject areas.

    It sounds here like the biggest concern is about the focus of the content, and the amount of time spent on it. Of course, if students spend 50% of their time learning vocabulary, then something is wrong. Yes, students should be primarily listening to and playing music in music class. The example mentioned above isn’t a Common Core issue, just a teaching and implementation issue. Common Core helps orient and direct, but does not mandate these practices.

    • Windy D says:

      Ben, as a former art teacher, I can attest that vocabulary from the arts is important for students. However, Common Core is interested in specific vocabulary that will progress them on to careers as unquestioning workers. Vocabulary that promotes interest, appreciation, and understanding of the arts would not be welcome.

      Art helps balance the hemispheres of the brain, and encourages independent thinking as a complete human being. (The creative hemisphere is the “ah hah!” part of the brain).

      Big corporations do not want “workers” who may question things–like “ah hah!”–Fast food is the reason for my poor health and the health problems of my children.

      Or how about “ah hah!”–That huge, powerful, controlling corporation “donated” many millions so they could bill billions to the people through education taxes.

      Or how about this one–“Ah hah!”–My tax money is brain washing my child into an intelligent, unquestioning robot for industry. My tax money is going to rich “testing and owning-every part of your child’s education” companies that make the tests and control the privately-owned education.

      “Ah hah!” The Soviet Union already failed miserably and broke up because of trying similar procedures.

      Common Core teaches a disdain for the Constitution–and the promoters illegally and surreptitiously ignore large parts of the Constitution (in their required lessons). The principals and teachers are working in an atmosphere of fear–just like in the Soviet Union (The U.S.S.R doesn’t exist anymore). Just do the research and talk to teachers (behind closed doors).

      Our basic freedoms are being taken away–and the instigators of Common Core know this. Just a “few” are the dictators of copyrighted education of the state masses–except for Texas and few other rebellious states. But like the genetically processed fields will eventually poison all the organic plants–so will Common Core destroy our freedom to question the distant and privately owned education controllers. The creators of Common Core send their children to private schools so they will be able to control the “workers'” children.(But like a virus, those private schools will be infected, too).

      The purpose of Common Core is to create intelligent robots that do not question. They do not want students to develop into independent, questioning, and creative “workers” because that would not be in their best interests. The arts are on their way out of public education–a process that has been going on for at least 30 years. That’s why education has lowered its standards. The quality of teaching is going down.

      Our children are compared to Finland’s students (in math)–a tiny easily managed country that allows its children to choose their educations from a variety of choices, and has produced excellent, caring teachers.(By the way, we had to help Finland and Europe escape domination in two world wars).

      For fun and a scary time: Go to youtube and watch “Examination Day Twilight Zone 1985.” People, it’s just around the corner. Vote out the people promoting Common Core. At least we can still vote–until the corporations controlling the computers and money take care of that freedom, also. Think creatively before it’s too late.

      Ben, “melody” is not the same kind of vocabulary as “commission.” Please do not suggest vocabulary words to teachers that may get them fired.

Leave a Reply