We attended Curriculum night (which was really an hour and half long meeting). Following the meeting, two teachers came up to me. One was the teacher who asked the infamous, “What is Common Core?” question to my child’s math class. He was led by another teacher who introduced me as “this is the Mom who blogged about you.” (oh, dear, what have I done?!?)
The math teacher shook my hand, smiled, and said, “Wow! I made it into a blog?” He then told me he really has no control over the common core, and he has to teach what they tell him to. He complimented my child’s knowledge and participation in class, and told about a common core scenario he’d given students to do in groups that day, and how well my child did on it.
And that’s it.
I don’t think my child’s answer to his question changed his opinion, and his response didn't make me change mine… but maybe it made us both question the validity and use of common core? We're both having to deal with it, like it or not.
There is no proof that common core works because it has never been done before. In fact, the test results from the state of New York, which gave the first common core aligned PARCC test this past spring, are devastating. When 2/3 of students are labeled as failing, many of whom are normally excellent, bright students, what good can come from it? The unfortunate consequence of the test results means that Art and Music will be cut for those failing students to enroll them in intensive math and English classes to prepare them for next year's testing. How sad for those children! Our state is going to administer the PARCC next year, so I worry how our children will be affected, and if opting-out of testing for my children will hurt their grades. Right now, it is mandatory in TN, but there are parents who are saying "not with my child" and opting out.
I can't ignore all the the glossy advertisements and professional commercials I see about Common Core. I can't help myself from wondering, "what if they'd used that money to hire more teachers and support staff for overcrowded classrooms?" or "What if they'd used that money to fund art and music in schools that couldn't afford it?" Alas, it isn't my money to spend, but when it affects my own children and their public schools, don't we, as parents, get a say-so in it?
When organizations that have no relation to public education suddenly are in the news supporting common core, and I do a little research and find out that, sure enough, Mr. Bill Gates did give a generous donation to the Tennessee Police Chiefs... or a few million to the National PTA... or the campaigns of those politicians... I have to shake my head and wonder what it must be like to have so much money that you can buy people's support like that.
Speaking of glossy brochures and news articles, have you noticed that descriptions of Common Core always include the words, “RIGOR” and “RELEVANCE”??? It is getting on my nerves how EVERY description of common core has those same two words. Then I saw this funny picture (below) from one of my favorite childhood movies, "The Princess Bride." So, me and my questioning self, in trying to look "deeper" into text, as common core supposedly does, decided to find out:
"What is the relevance of rigor?”
I've never really used the word, “rigor,” myself, but I've heard it used before in books and TV with the term, “rigor mortis,” which in Latin, literally translates to: “stiffness of death.” yuck. I turned to the good old Merriam-Webster dictionary and looked up the definition of RIGOR. (NOTE: Bill Gates is going to need to buy all the dictionary companies to change the meaning of that word, because the definition is atrocious!) This is not something that any parents would want for their child's education:
rig·or noun \ˈri-gər\ 1 a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment :severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible :strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty 2 : a tremor caused by a chill 3 : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold 4 : strict precision : exactness <logical rigor> 5 a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
Does this sound like joyful learning to you? Would YOU, as an adult, enjoy being in a rigorous college class or working in a rigorous job, as described above? This Momma Bear doesn't want her children's memories of school to be rigorous. They will have plenty of time for rigor when they grow up.