Unfortunately Money Can Buy Things It Shouldn’t

On Monday, Wicked Local Scituate posted a story about teachers in Massachusetts fighting the adoption of Common Core in their state. Scituate is a beautiful town on the Massachusetts coast about 25 miles from Boston. The median income in the town between 2000 and 2011 was slightly over $100,000. In February 2015, the average price of a house in Scituate was $545,000. I mention this just to give you an idea of the town that publishes the paper involved. I should also mention that in Massachusetts the word ‘wicked’ is frequently used as an adjective. Please follow the link above to read the entire article.

The article states a few facts about the pre-Common Core successes of education in Massachusetts and reminds us of the actions of two courageous members of the validation committee who refused to sign off on Common Core:

According to many of its critics, early childhood experts, teachers, parents, and local school committees were barely consulted during the inception of the Common Core and were inadequately represented on its validation committee. The only two educators on the panel, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, perhaps the nation’s preeminent ELA (English Language Arts) specialist (and a former senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education) and Dr. James Milgram, a mathematics professor from Stanford University, refused to sign off on the Common Core validation statement because they did not support the Common Core’s standards or the program itself, on the basis that the Common Core standards were not research-based, rigorous or internationally benchmarked.

The writer of the article gathered his information about Common Core from a friend who is an early childhood expert of 20 years, a private school teacher, and mother of a third-grader, and who was lobbying against Common Core in Massachusetts.

The article reports:

So why did Massachusetts, which in 2007 was nationally ranked in the 90th percentile for student achievement in standardized testing, adopt a curriculum that had little transparency or accountability and choose to rate teachers not by how well they taught their content area, but instead on students’ scores on a test of dubious value? Why did the Commonwealth replace its top-notch English and math standards with the weaker national standards of the Common Core? As far as my friend is concerned, the answer is “Cha-ching!”

In 2010, the Massachusetts education commissioner relied on reports from Achieve Inc., the Thomas Fordham Institute, and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education to support and justify a recommendation to adopt the Common Core. These private organizations had one common thread—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which invested more than $200 million dollars in promoting the Common Core curriculum.

The article goes on to explain some of the other financial dealings related to Common Core.

The article concludes:

There is no regard for individual and collective aptitudes and motivations within a particular classroom, or for the presentation of developmentally appropriate content. Teachers cannot celebrate or assess the different learning styles of their students, because all students must learn and test the same way. We have gone from educator-created content and teaching methods to a state of test takers and test teachers, who are forced to adhere to a one-size fits all model of standardization.

My friend and her allies in the education community are seeking to convince the state’s political leaders to reinstitute the education standards and testing regime, which prevailed prior to the adoption of the Common Core. Time will tell whether those efforts are successful, but their voice is growing louder, and I can’t see them giving up without a fight.

These are the same objections we are hearing from teachers and parents around the country. It is time to fight the moneyed interests that are promoting Common Core and do what is best for our children.