Education, Miscellany

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Kindergarten Graduation Edition

In my day (See: up hill, both ways, snow up to here), kindergarten graduation involved something called Field Day, where the unskilled and uncoordinated received green ribbons for participation (I have quite the collection).

Today, our youngest scholars don cap and gown and stride across a platform to the Kidz Bop version of “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive their hard earned kindergarten diploma.

Unless their parents decide to brawl in the school parking lot with hammers and sticks. Then it gets ugly.


Education, Politics

And Michigan Educators Said, “AMEN!”

While people with no experience in education policy are putzing around Mackinac Island, determining how our kids will be taught in the foreseeable future, one retired journalist has gone back to school to get his master’s in education with a teaching certificate. (Can’t imagine anyone from Mackinac Center Mouthpiece The Grand Rapids Press doing that.)

Ken Winter offered this challenge to the “leaders” hanging out on the Grand Hotel porch: Spend time in real classrooms. See what real teachers do.

And the educators said, “DUH!” AMEN!

Winter offered this about the current reform efforts:

I have not been impressed by what I’ve heard from state politicians and special interests to meet this challenge. Lawmakers and business leaders could benefit from real time in a classroom to see what educators have to contend with before students enter their school doors – broken homes, substance abuse, illiteracy, psychological and physical challenges, poverty and more.

Mr. Winter is welcome in my classroom any day, as are Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, the editorial staff of The Grand Rapids Press, and the current  Chairperson of House Education Committee.

I suspect Mr. Winter is the only one to come knocking on my door.

Education, Politics

And a Few Reasons to Question Common Core

Reason No. 1: Jeb Bush supports it. He also claimed today that public schools do nothing but “dumb down standards to make adults look better.” Yes, Jeb, because if the nation wants to look at a stellar example of positive educational reform, it should look to Florida, where “raising the bar” means there’s a frat party in Gainesville.

Reason No. 2: The corporate cash grab. Common Core’s been adopted by 45 states, and those states are going to need lots of textbooks, workbooks, practice tests, and who-knows-what to prepare for more standardized testing. From @TheChalkFace, this image of a typical assignment for 2nd grade math:


It seems harmless, even simple, right? It also looks like it’s been developed by a corporation that hasn’t considered how many students wouldn’t have easy access to these items. As @TheChalkFace mentions in this post, experienced teachers know their craft well enough to create their own assignments that meet local, state, and national standards and the specific needs of their students.

Reason No. 3: There’s little or no money to implement curricular changes. There’s little or no money to acquire the necessary computers for the online CCSS exams. In our once great state of Michissippi, the legislature just approved an education budget that will increase per pupil spending by a whopping $11 (unless you’re in an Educational Achievement Authority school, where you’ll get $1000 per kid). But money meant for Common Core was removed from the proposed budget.

Why is Michissppi reconsidering Common Core? Because some Tea Party wingnuts (yes, I know, that’s redundant) think it’s all about federal government takeover of public schools.  There are some parochial schools (I’m lookin’ at you, Livingston Christian) where the locals think CCSS is a sign of the End Times (they think President Obama’s the antichrist, too).

Education, Politics

One Reason to Support Common Core

John Merrow, in An Open Letter to the Architects of the Common Core, praises Common Core for raising the academic bar in America. Students in Portland, Maine learned the following:

(T)he value of teamwork; the importance of grit and tenacity; the science of electricity, wind, et cetera; the art and science of public speaking/communication; the importance of citizenship and making a contribution to society; confidence in their own power to create a meaningful life; and, finally, a sense of wonder.  (I would also wager that the adults came away with a new appreciation for education, students and teachers.)

What concerns Merrow – and most educators – is how these meaningful lessons can be measured on standardized tests. The short answer is they can’t.

Thus, the rub of Common Core: it will be used to measure student achievement and teacher effectiveness. When so much is riding on test scores, you can bet the classroom focus will be on mastering only those skills required on the test. What’s good about the Common Core, like what’s happening in Portland, won’t be so common.