June 4, 2015 Globe Presentation: The Cost of Keeping Common Core

Common Core isn’t just about standardizing education across Arizona and America.  Common Core aims to standardize teachers. They won’t be able to call themselves "professionals" anymore.  They will have lost all authority in the classroom and be nothing more than technicians taking orders from their principals, who take orders from their superintendents, who take orders from the local school board, who take orders from the state board, who are little more than administrative agents for a nationalized K-12 program of instruction.  

Diane Douglas has been hosting Town Hall "listening" events all over Arizona, giving the public a chance to come to the microphone and speak on whatever public school concern they have.  The hot topic is Common Core.  At the Globe, Arizona, event held on June 4, I was able to make some public comments.  This is the last of three.

I hear people fretting about the cost to dump Common Core after all the money that’s been spent.  Nobody cared about the cost to adopt Common Core.  Arizona received $25 million, but Common Core will cost $387 million to implement.

Nobody cared about the cost of dumping Arizona’s previous standardsDr. William McCallum, one of the lead Common Core math writers, had just finished helping Arizona develop its own Math standards one year before starting work on Common Core.  The Arizona State Board of Education dumped those previous standards like yesterday’s garbage. 

The fact is, a truly excellent set of standards should be straightforward, flexible, and elegantly easy for any professional teacher to use as a guide in teaching. (NOTE:  Here is one of the nation’s best English/Language Arts standards, developed by Massachusetts in the 1990’s, through a public process, for example.)

If Common Core Standards are so much better, why has it taken a year of "professional teacher training" to decode them?

Why did Payson have to hire a Director of Student Achievement and four Student Achievement teachers to teach teachers how to teach the Common Core standards?  This is simply absurd.  

It’s because those standards are indecipherable, inflexible, prescriptive,  and disorganized.  I’ve read many of them!

Teachers shouldn’t be hamstrung to a regimented set of standards that they know are inappropriate for their students.  Every school is different; every classroom is different; every student is different.  In order for students to learn anything, they need professional teachers.  That’s where the money should go.  Teachers and the support they need to help their very diverse group of students. It also helps to have committed parents and disciplined kids.  

Unfortunately, the best teachers are leaving the profession in droves.  Some of the nation’s top teachers are discouraging high school graduates from pursuing a career in teaching.  Why? 

Because teachers are being ordered around by the Common Core system, and then turned into drill sergeants ordering their students to master inappropriate standards.

They have no control over what goes on in their classrooms, but they are held accountable for what goes on in their classrooms. 

Do not underestimate all the costs of retaining Common Core.  This isn’t just about standardizing education across Arizona and America.  Common Core aims to standardize teachers.  

"I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture.”

—— Albert Einstein, Saturday Evening Post interview, 10/26/1929