I don’t often quote Forrest Gump, but sometimes you just have to go with what says the most in the least amount of words.
And I know that some of you are probably tired of hearing me drone on and on about changes in education. However, I would remind you that education occupies my mind and body five days a week and pays my bills. For that reason I give it a little extra coverage here in the blog. So here goes…
I’ve already made my views about Common Core pretty clear. I accept the challenge of CC and I will endeavor to make my students as prepared as possible to go on to first grade with the knowledge and skills required. But I am amazed that once again our “powers that be” who are supposedly experts and have spent hundreds of hours perfecting this program have also allowed some loopholes that doom the program to failure. First let’s refresh our memory on how this came about:
The release of the standards marks the conclusion of the development of the Common Core State Standards and signals the start of the adoption and implementation process by the states. The year-long process was led by governors and chief state school officers in 48 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia. The final standards were informed by nearly 10,000 public comments and by standards in other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy.
And here is a comment from one expert on how this should work:
“I am excited to have a common framework from which to share best practices with fellow superintendents across the nation. With students, parents, and teachers all on the same page and working together for shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from school prepared to succeed and build a strong future for themselves and the country.”
But I must agree with Forrest that stupid is as stupid does, and here is what stupid is already doing:
Apparently the CC either does NOT include a mandate on the “best practices” regarding class size or some school districts have managed to circumvent it because I have received numerous reports from fellow teachers in other districts and states who have more than twenty-five, yes 25, kindergarten students in their classrooms. Many have 30! Yesterday I was told that one class has 32 students. That is insane and shows a reckless disregard for years of research about optimal class sizes for kindergarten. In many preschools across the nation we legally require an adult for every 15 children and most preschools would not think of having more than ten children without an assistant. So how can we think that the very next year those same children are going perform to the best of their abilities packed into a room like cattle in a feed lot?
There are also serious physical and safety issues raised by the idea of having 30 five year olds in the care of ONE person. Think for a moment about taking those children to lunch or recess. Think about what happens if one or two or three become ill or injured.
And “best practices”? That’s a joke if you are teaching and testing a group that large. Management alone will take up much of the day. Does anyone think all 25-30 are perfectly capable students who all speak English and have the same foundation of knowledge and skills? In your dreams!
I know this is ultimately about money. Smaller classes mean more classrooms and more teachers and a bigger budget. I am just so very weary of hearing about money, money, money problems from a society that throws the stuff at athletes and performers. I am weary of hearing money complaints from a society that spends so much of it on gambling, cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. I am especially weary of hearing about money woes when people who HAVE it will pay $60,000 to hear a candidate drone on and on about what he plans to do to help us. Stop talking us to death and actually do something!
I am privileged to teach in a district that still has small classes and I can spend much more individual time with each of my students. But that doesn’t keep me from getting a student from one of those other districts who is supposed to transition easily because he or she has received the same education elsewhere, and it doesn’t excuse me from sitting idly by while my fellow teachers in other states are used and abused.
I don’t use the word often, but setting higher standards for education and then expecting teachers to implement them with twice as many students is just plain stupid.