Reading & Reacting: Is the Common Core Becoming a Fiasco?

Photo: Peter Pan #1

Peter Pan #1 – cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by Col Hawksworth

By Anthony Cody @ EdWeek’s Living in Dialogue blog

Anthony Cody is on another electric roll and really should be required reading for anyone involved in education, administrators, teachers, parents, even students ready and capable to reckon with the issues. Plus, this piece touches that English teacher in me as Cody metaphorically draws a number of layered metaphors into a single rhetorical focus.

I also loved the This American Life reference, celebrating a real gem from my native Chicago. Riffing off a recent episode on the concept of fiasco and an ill-fated Peter Pan production featured in the program, Cody shows just how visible the strings and the rigging are that continually reveal the clunky contraption the Common Core is, like the actors that pinged off the scenery.

The Common Core project has begun to exhibit some similarities to this theatrical fiasco. Just as with Peter Pan, someone is pulling on wires meant to be invisible. Just as with Peter Pan, where we are told Tinkerbell will only fly if we believe, we are told the Common Core’s success depends on our willingness to believe in its potential for good. But just as the audience at the disastrous Peter Pan show began to lose their ability to believe, teachers, parents and students are losing faith in the Common Core.

Cody goes on to list a number of items that the public is struggling to believe despite the perpetual myth machine of the Department of the Education, United States Chamber of Commerce, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and more.

Again, none of the items that Cody lists are new and none are truly refutable, though their be much contrary spin.

He continues to show what the mounting disbelief looks like, and that group includes people from all walks of the political spectrum.

Teachers and parents have a hard time disbelieving those in charge. It takes a lot for us to start shouting that Tinkerbell is a fraud. What it really takes is for us to see that the Common Core, instead of helping students, is causing them harm. That is what parents and teachers are witnessing in New York. They are seeing entire classrooms of children crying after taking a test. They are seeing what they have begun to describe as “Common Core Syndrome,” the phenomena of students so stressed out by the constant pressure to prepare for tests, that they come to hate school. And teachers feel powerless, because their jobs depend on the test scores.

The real question implicit in Cody’s piece is not whether the Common Core is a fiasco. That question is careening down a path of near inarguable status. All that awaits is the wave of costs, results, and consequences of the new testing regime on a sample size greater than New York state. The real question morphs into a series of questions which are much more problematic, questions like:

  • How long will the fiasco play out?
  • How much damage will be done?
  • How many teachers will be lost?
  • How many students will be lost?
  • How many lies will will we continue to believe?

Unfortunately, for everyone, questions like these cannot be answered in thirty seconds or less, made into posters, or discussed with anyone unwilling to listen rather than explain how its going to be.

Right now teachers are only being told how it’s going to be, and whenever that is the case a fiasco awaits. No amount of pixie dust ever seems to prevent it.

Image: iPad

posted via
and flipped to Teaching Today

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