Bob Mercer says that Common Core faces some serious opponents. The Concerned Women for America and the South Dakota Family Policy Council will, alas, probably waste our legislative and electoral time with unserious expostulations that Common Core threatens Christianity with Soviet databases.
Any serious opposition to Common Core should start with teachers like Michael Larson, whose professional experience and expertise tell him that Common Core is pushing teachers and students away from good literature and good learning.
Any serious opposition to Common Core should start with teachers like this Maryland English teacher, noticed by David Newquist, who says Common Core is only the latest symptom of a much larger political culture that prevents her from practicing her profession:
My job is to be debased by an inescapable environment of distrust which insists that teachers cannot be permitted to create and administer their own tests and quizzes, now called “assessments,” or grade their own students’ work appropriately. The development of plans, choice of content, and the texts to be used are increasingly expected to be shared by all teachers in a given subject. In a world where I am constantly instructed to “differentiate” my methods, I am condemned for using different resources than those provided because if I do, we are unable to share “data” with the county and the nation at large.
This counter-intuitive methodology smothers creativity, it restricts students’ critical thinking, and assumes a one-size-fits-all attitude that contradicts the message teachers receive. Teacher planning time has been so swallowed by the constant demand to prove our worth to the domination of oppressive teacher evaluation methods that there is little time for us to carefully analyze student work, conduct our own research, genuinely better ourselves through independent study instead of the generic mandated developments, or talk informally with our co-workers about intellectual pursuits. For a field that touts individuality and differentiation, we are forced to lump students together as we prepare all of these individuals for identical, common assessments. As a profession, we have become increasingly driven by meaningless data points and constant evaluation as opposed to discovery and knowledge.
Originality, experimentation, academic liberty, teacher autonomy, and origination are being strangled in ill-advised efforts to “fix” things that were never broken. If I must prove my worth and my students’ learning through the provision of a measurable set of objectives, then I have taught them nothing because things of value cannot be measured. Inventiveness, inquisitiveness, attitude, work ethic, passion, these things cannot be quantified to a meager data point in an endless table of scrutiny [seventh-grade English teacher, quoted by Valerie Strauss, "I Would Love to Teach But...," Washington Post, 2013.12.31].
When you hear conservatives like the Concerned Women for America and the S.D. Family Policy Council hollering about Common Core, ask them about teachers. Ask them what policies they support to give teachers academic liberty and autonomy in the classroom. Ask them if they are willing to get rid of state-mandated standards and standardized tests. Ask them if they trust teachers to decide what novels and other texts to teach. Ask them if they trust teachers to decide who gets an A and who gets an F. Ask them if they think South Dakota teachers deserve better pay for the work they do.
The answers to those questions will tell you if a Common Core opponent is supporting education or just some political agenda.