May 21, 2014

Teacher Involved With Common Core Development: My White Privilege Motivated Me

At a website called Girard at Large in Manchester, New Hampshire, proprietor Richard Girard videotaped and reported on the proceedings of a debate held at St. Anselm’s College on the Common Core educational standards — something you’ll almost never see anyone in the establishment press deign to do.

Girard appropriately described proponents’ descriptions of and arguments in favor of the standards “revealing,” “enlightening,” and “well, frightening.” Perhaps no statement made during the two-hour event Monday contained more of all three adjectives than one made by Dr. David Pook, a teacher at The Derryfield School in Manchester, about what motivated him to get involved with having input into the English Language Arts standards. Brace yourself (HT BizPac Review; specific audio segment is at this link; bolds are mine throughout this post; May 22 Update: Mr. Pook’s comment was slightly revised at the original link for accuracy; that revision is now reflected below):

DavidPookNHcommonCoreTeacher0514wide

“As a white male in society, I’m given a lot of privilege I didn’t earn.  And, as a result, I think it’s really important that all the kids get an equal opportunity to learn how to read” and he went on to talk about his experience in a Chicago school. Of course, he never actually explained why he, a white man enjoying privileged (sic) he didn’t earn is teaching at a pricey private institution that only the very wealthy can afford to send their kids to and isn’t using his “make it fair to everyone else by lowering the quality” standards.

I believe the proper translation of Pook is: “I really wanted to dumb things down so that everyone, including those benefitting from white privilege like me, will be equally learning-impaired — except for the truly privileged like those I get to teach at my school.” It’s worth noting, while we’re in the neighborhood, that the school to which President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle send their two children is also not adopting Common Core.

The “dumbing down” allegation has merit, as Girard noted, because “(The) English Language Arts standards (were) panned by Dr. Sandra Stotsky, the content expert hired by Common Core to validate the standards … (who) refused to validate the standards.”

Here’s more from Girard’s main report:

Frankly folks, it was an eye opening presentation that really drew a bright red line under where we are today as a society. While the opponents of Common Core routinely read from the organization’s own documents about the standards and what would be required to meet them and cited study after study arguing against the recommendations, the folks in favor offered little more than quotes from teachers who have little experience using the standards to say they’re just great. In a telling question and answer session, a lady in the audience asked (Board of Education Chairman Tom) Raffio and (school board member Bill) Duncan if they could provide any studies to show the proposed standards and methods were of legitimate value, Duncan answered it was quote “scientific enough” end quote to talk to teachers who were using the standards. Raffio simply referenced all of the work that went into developing them.

While Raffio and Duncan continued to deny the standards infringed on local control or amounted to a federal take over of education, they also failed to answer questions raised by Banfield about why, if it’s not a federal takeover, is the state asking for waivers and permission to do what it believes is best and why localities aren’t able to make decisions without state permission. Raffio also upset a parent who told the story of how his daughter came home from Bedford High with a Common Core questionnaire asking about the medical history of every member of the family and asked about data collection. Raffio told him data collection in conjunction with Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment was a quote “misconception” end quote to which the parent asked then why are they asking for this data and what are they going to do with it? Crickets still chirping on that one.

For those who need a quick primer on Common Core, here are the Cliff’s notes from my column on the subject last week:

  • These are standards which have been furtively pushed onto the states — i.e., not developed by the states, as proponents claim — through de facto federal government bribes contained in the 2009 stimulus bill and through the conditional granting of No Child Left Behind waivers. State legislatures had virtually no input into Common Core’s initial adoption.
  • Costly and rigid standardized national tests will force reluctant private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling parents to conform their curricula to Common Core to ensure that their students perform well on them.
  • One “feature” of Common Core is a national student data tracking system involving a reported 400-plus “data points” from pre-school through the workforce which will strip away students’ and families’ personal privacy. Personally identifiable and sensitive student and family data can and will be shared among government and private entities.
  • The bottom line is that Common Core strips the states of their constitutional authority over education, will end parents’ ability to influence what their children are taught, and will ultimately and illegally accomplish the far left’s long-time dream of giving the federal government full control over the nation’s school curricula.
  • In the past year, it has become dreadfully obvious that Common Core’s “standards” are a watered-down muddle of incoherence backing a curriculum which is frustrating the nation’s children, infuriating their parents, and driving down test scores.

I also have a useful five-video series posted at my home blog which requires all of 33 minutes to complete.

As with so many other issues, the establishment press’s performance in covering the controversy over Common Core has been fact-impaired and all too government-supportive. It shouldn’t be. Congratulations to Mr. Girard for capturing important truth-telling moments from those who would take over the education of this nation’s children. Rest assured that if they ever achieve such control, they have no intention of ever giving it back.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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