Monday, February 17, 2014

Why Should We Rally on March 31st

March 31st is fast approaching and many people are starting to ask "Who, What, and Why about the rally at the capital.  So borrowing from a Diane Ravitch blog here are ten reasons to rally.

1. 668,000 STUDENTS IN THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA JUST FLAT OUT DESERVE BETTER - What could be more important than the education of our children?
Q 2. You have realized that public education is being hijacked by testing companies and "for profit" organizations

3. You are tired of reading about how bad schools are and teachers are by those who know nothing about education. (except some did actually attend school at one time or another)

4. Class sizes are growing due to a SHORTAGE OF TEACHERS

5. You are a caring educator who wants the BEST education for your own kids as well as your students

6. Although you believe in high expectations and rigorous standards you feel CCSS needs to be vetted  by Oklahoma educators not just national standards renamed OAS

7. You are tired of regurgitating ed reforms in Oklahoma that have already failed in Florida.  Oklahoma continues to outscore Florida on ACT scores

8. A-F does not scare you but if you and your school is going to receive a grade its needs to be fair and accurate

9. Every initiative the "so called" reformers have implemented the last four years has landed squarely on the teacher's desk

10. Local control is eroding.  Retention should be a decision made by the teacher, principal, and parent.

Number one is the most important but if we do not address number 4 we are not going to have the teachers to educate our students no matter how much money we add.  Please add your own thoughts and reasons to rally at the capital on March 31st

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What is Common Core?

Before asking someone “What is your Position on CCSS “maybe you should ask “What is Common Core” How many people really know what CCSS.  It’s a test; it’s pedagogy, NO IT IS STANDARDS, Common Core State Standards
Back in December of 2012 I attended a meeting in Woodward.  The speaker was Dr. Barresi, for those of you living in a fishbowl Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  She was talking about CCSS and stated “Common Core was going to be a new way of teaching” and followed with the” CCSS tests are going to be difficult and our students will not perform well on them at first.” So is CCSS a pedagogy or it a test or is it standards and we have just made it like Superman.
Now that we know what CCSS are how do we feel about CCSS?  No one would argue with the assertion that “the only high-wage jobs, whether in manufacturing or services, will be high-skilled ones, requiring more and better education.” The need to prepare our children for college and 21st century careers should be our state’s top priority. Local school districts, SDE and the state legislature should be working together to meet this goal. Instead, CCSS is dividing what should be a united front turning something as simple as teaching “12 inches is a foot to all first graders statewide” into a political football.  I would even go a step further: the CCSS is changing everything in education. The standards are creating division and derision within the public education community at precisely a time all sides should be coming together
 On a local level, CCSS, while well intentioned, forces education stakeholders to pick sides.   I do not believe standards should be tied to teacher autonomy student graduation or 3rd grade promotion.  When CCSS was introduced as testing it was doomed.  The assessments in our high stakes world drive instruction.  Do we even need standards when we have national assessments?  Do we think CCSS will change the LSAT, MCAT, bar exam or even teacher certification test? 

Changing standards alone will not make an ineffective teacher effective or a good teacher great.  Changing standards will not make a struggling student an honor roll student or insure that every IEP student meet his/her goals.  How we make these things happen is a combination of improving teachers, students and even parents.  Having common standards nationwide is a great idea but as long as we have high stakes testing the test not the standards are going to control the instruction.

In conclusion do we need Common Standards when we have common assessments like the ACT and SAT?  The answer lies somewhere in the why not category.  As long as we are talking just standards we should try to be as COMMON as local boards will allow. We should also design these standards to meet the needs of the 21st century student.  My final answer is “what we really need is more COMMON SENSE by those in leadership.”