@Rob Lively, I've written extensively against the CCSSI. Google me. You'll find blog posts on Schools Matter @the Chalk Face and on email@example.com
As for @oydave: first disaggregating scores by socio-economic categories is standard practice when you want to compare apples to apples. If you just want to say that it's fair to compare ALL our students, regardless of economics, against a selected subset of kids in Germany, Japan, Singapore who have been sorted by ability into academic high schools or trade schools, and who in the cases of Japan and Singapore have far less abject poverty that we do (approximately 25% of all children in the US are now living below the poverty line, then your goal is clearly to make political hay against schools regardless of the facts. And that does seem to be your goal.
As for you union comments. I was in a union for exactly 2 years: 1998-2000, and wasn't thrilled with the "service" I was given by the union. I've not taught in a public school with a union in 13 years. But there were certainly situations where I wish I had a union. So does that make me a "union guy"? And if so, what of it? The US labor movement in this country fought so that there was some modicum of fairness in the workplace, so kids weren't worked to death, so there were weekends you no doubt take for granted ("If you don't come in Saturday, don't bother coming in Sunday" probably sounds like a joke to you). You probably know little or nothing about the history of labor, the Triangle Shirt Waist Fire, nothing about why there are public service unions, why teachers had to organize to make a living wage, and so forth. A typical ignorant Tea Bagger.
Predictably, you blame public schools for all our woes, but won't even give credit for periods of economic prosperity (remember the '90s, for example?) or outstanding academic achievements to schools or teachers. No, that's just rugged individual achievement. Classic rhetorical malarky that I've seen a thousand times from "critics" like you. Indeed, attacks on public education go back at least as far as the days of Horace Mann, whom you've never heard of (must be the fault of the public schools, couldn't be that you LACKED anything. Funny how things switch at your convenience between collective and individual responsibility, isn't it?)
But you are very wrong to think I don't believe we have serious problems with public education. They just don't happen to be the ones you whine about, for the most part. They have to do with how our public schools bought into a horrid model of mass education in the late 1800s taken from how the Prussian military did wide-scale training. Maybe a nice idea for building a dumb, obedient army; not so good for teaching children to become productive participants in a democracy, however. You can try reading the history of US education. I'd recommend John Taylor Gatto's brilliant UNDERGROUND HISTORY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION for starters. But I doubt it will do you much good. You're too busy with agendas that have little to do with facts.
For what it's worth, I consider Sandra Stotsky and Jim Milgram to be clueless. Stotsky has no credential in math or math ed, but has managed to worm her way on to committees (in Massachusetts and elsewhere, apparently) that evaluated state MATH standards. She was so out of her depth that she objected to including geometric constructions (a classic topic) in the standards because she thought they had something to do with constructivist learning theory (a shibboleth for educational conservatives, as I will mention again below). What a fool! And then she gets a position at the school of education at the University of Arkansas. Who endows the chair she is given there? The Walton Family, huge supporters of charter schools and other efforts towards privatizing public education
(and I'm sorry, oydave, the twit who keeps arguing that US schools are a disaster, but you don't know what you're talking about. Disaggregate schools in high-needs districts, crippled by abject poverty, asked to perform miracles with children who are themselves suffering from a host of ill-effects of that poverty before they ever set foot inside a school building, and you discover that we compete extremely well against the rest of the world (and many of those international test scores do NOT compare apples to apples. So many countries start sorting out kids into non-academic, college-bound tracks in Europe and Asia, that it's simply ludicrous to average our scores nationally and compare them with the academic high schools in Singapore. Why not have our 8th graders compete with college seniors in Japan? It makes about as much sense. Our affluent and middle class schools are, on the whole, doing just fine, thanks, compared to the rest of the world. Have you noticed a fall off in Nobel Prizes accruing to Americans? No, you haven't. Everything you claim is grounded in nothing substantive or meaningful. But thanks for playing Let's Lie About Our Schools!)
As for Milgram, I think he lost it somewhere back in the last decade if not earlier when it comes to public school math education. I blogged about this issue in 2010 after reading an insane interview with him: http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/2010/03/you-just-cant-make-this-stuff-up-or-can_25.html If you read that and believe he's not off his rocker, then perhaps you can order twin strait jackets and join him in the bin.
He is stuck in some fantasy world when it comes to K-12 math instruction. His objections are grounded nearly entirely in two things: 1) politics, and 2) the PRACTICE standards at the beginning of the Common Core Math section. They are the only part that make any sense. But since he hated those same ideas in the 1990s, when the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics supported most of them (starting, technically, in 1989), of course he's still railing against them.
I reject Stotsky's and Milgram's reasoning for criticizing the CCSSI, even as I agree with the final conclusion: they are a VERY bad idea. They clearly represent part of a 30 year attempt to turn public education over to Wall Street. And you know what a WONDERFUL job they've been doing over the last decade at making things work well.
The problem with the CCSSI has little, if anything, to do with Tea Party extremist nonsense. If that were the only basis for criticism, I'd be out there working my behind off to promote the Common Core. My opposition comes from a progressive perspective both politically and educationally (I've been working in English and mathematics education since 1973).
The problems with this initiative are manifold. Start with the way they were forced on states (it's called bribery coupled with little financial choice). Then lie by claiming it's a bottom-up mandate, not a federally-instigated top-down initiative. That already should raise suspicions. It certainly did for me, but not because I'm anti-government, but because I'm pro-constitution, and we all know by now that the federal government is forbidden from doing this sort of thing regarding education. So why would it do so?
The answer isn't socialism, communism, radical Muslim fundamentalism, or Barack Obama; it's not fascism, totalitarianism, or George W. Bush; it's not Republicans and it's not Democrats (well, actually, it's both). But the real answer is corporate disaster capitalism. A phony crisis in public education has been repeatedly sold to the public going back to the early 1980s with Reagan's infamous "A Nation at Risk" report, one of the most shameless pieces of propaganda in recent memory regarding our schools. It's taken about 30 years to fully bear fruit, but this entire boondoggle comes down to building in the public consciousness the notion that any problems we have economically or otherwise can be traced to bad schools, bad teachers, bad unions (remember that Reagan started early by crushing the air traffic controllers' union, a safe battle against a small public service workers' organization that showed how this could be done; he wasn't about to take on the UAW or the Teamsters). Add to the mix the phony ideas that what we need are more rigorous standards and more "accountability"; so high-stakes testing becomes the order of the day. It reaches a state of near-nirvana with No Child Left Behind, a bi-partisan bit of babble-filled legislation that marked a kind of doomsday for public schools.
At this point, we need to focus on the reality that CCSS is not intended to make things better for children, particularly not poor or minority children. The rhetoric saying otherwise is just a transparent ploy to justify the neoliberal project of destroying public schools, then buying, privatizing, and turning them into "profit centers" for billionaires, corporations, and the usual Wall Street vultures. If greed was good in the '80s, it's a cardinal virtue today in the world of the 1%. And if we let ourselves buy into their lies, we'll have sold out our children, grandchildren, and generations to come based on a scheme that has more holes than it takes to fill the Albert Hall.
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