Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
SEPTEMBER 7, 2013
William McCallum is, by his own description, a man who was “born in Australia and came to the United States to pursue a Ph. D. in mathematics at Harvard University, a professor at the University of Arizona, working in number theory and mathematics education.” He is also the chair of the Common Core mathematics standards writing committee.
I know that he has been blogging about CCSSI for quite some time and is very, very protective of its reputation and the efforts he and his committee put into creating something that, clearly, he believes in. Yesterday, I saw something on his blog from early August with the intriguing title, “Join with me in support of the Common Core“. Here is what he wrote there:
I have tried to stay out of the politics swirling around the standards and focus this blog on helping people who are trying to implement them. And, after this post, I will keep it that way here at Tools for the Common Core.But I’ve decided it’s time take a stand against the swirling tide of insanity that threatens our work, so I’m starting a new blog called I Support the Common Core. It will provide resources, links to articles, rebuttals, and discussion to help those who are fighting the good fight. If you sign up you will be getting emails and calls for action from me and others. Tools for the Common Core will remain available for those of you who prefer a quieter life and just want to get on with your jobs.The success of this effort depends on you. If only 10 brave souls sign up I will thank them and close down the effort. If 1,000 of you join then we can get something done (and I promise there will be jokes).
I attempted to reply, but comments had been closed, with only one person actually leaving any response at all (brief and positive). I’ve not yet gone to the site Bill links to, because I was busy crafting the following reply, which I discovered couldn’t be posted there:
Be fair, Bill. To say or imply that all critics of CCSSI are insane or immersed in “insanity” is to refuse to recognize reality. I understand you’re protective of your work, but the objections are not all a product of either right-wing paranoia, infused with Tea Party tin-hat wearing conspiracy theories about Obama, the UN, and the black helicopters. Some of us are quite progressive, quite in favor of improving the overall quality of mathematics education, and not worried about the New World Order according to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.
But a national initiative driven by billionaires, privatizers, and corporations is not the way to go, Bill. Your math standards have flaws, they seem to have often or entirely ignored the work of developmental psychologist and the input of early elementary teachers. Topics seem to have been moved (mostly to lower and lower grades) without clear-cut evidence that students will be ready to handle them. I see nothing that accounts for students who will lose key content because it was pushed to the grade(s) they have already completed:http://bit.ly/17n2e0u
These are not trivial issues. And that’s not a complete list. But my deepest concerns have little to do with any given content standard. They have to do with those who have funded this project from its inception, paid for the tests, the rollout, the propaganda machine that is now in full-throated, panic-fueled mode (your post here seems like a tiny but definite part of the attempt to deny that there’s any reason to worry), and their motives. On my view, from Day One, this has been a billionaire/corporate attempt to take over public education, pure and simple. Of course, there are all sorts of “reasons” given that don’t have to do with the real motive ($$): we have heard for 30+ years about how our nation is “at risk,” oddly all due to our allegedly failing schools, lazy teachers, poor standards, lazy students (that one’s been around since at least the days of Horace Mann), and eventually the “real” straw villains: those greedy teachers’ unions! Since Ronald Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union (who supported him in the 1980 election, by the way), it’s been clear that there is a powerful movement in this country on the part of the rich and powerful to turn back the clock to the days before the labor movement had helped workers gain decent wages and working conditions, something that eventually spilled over into public service jobs like teaching.
What you have chosen to participate in, knowingly or not, is a major piece of that retrogressive effort to put maximum power and profit back in the hands of the plutocrats or 1% as they have come to be known in the last couple of years. They own the book publishing, the testing companies, the professional development groups, the charter schools, and they will not stop until this machine they’ve built has destroyed all our public schools by labeling them as “failures” and shutting them down, to be replaced by for-profit charters and/or vouchers students can use to pay for whatever private education is open to them (and it will NOT be any more fair or equitable under that system for poor kids than it is now, and often it will be far worse). Having worked with a number of for-profit managed charter schools, I see all too clearly what the future holds for poor kids and kids of color. I’ve written about the phoniness of “choice” that is being dangled like it means something:http://bit.ly/17n2e0u and I claim that it is a demonstrable scam of the worst sort.
So no, I won’t join you, Bill, because to do so would be unethical and, flatly, wrong. I hope you come to realize some day how you’ve been played by those in power and decide to join those of us who are not lunatics, not insane, but intelligent people fighting for one of America’s most vital democratic institutions. We are trying to make positive changes that respect teachers as professionals, parents as stakeholders, and children as deserving more opportunities, more freedom, more respect, and more love, wisdom, and kindness than this twisted juggernaut of high-stakes testing, arbitrary, rigid “standards,” and obscene worship of “rigor” (and money) will ever understand or grant.
Previously, Daro was a Senior Fellow for Mathematics for America's Choice, the executive director of the Public Forum on School Accountability, directed the New Standards Project, and managed research and development for the National Center on Education and the Economy. Daro has directed large-scale teacher professional development programs for the University of California, including the California Mathematics Project and the American Mathematics Project.)
|Jason Zimba Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Bennington College 1 College Drive, Bennington, VT 05201|
Monday, December 29, 2014
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