Stacie Starr has won many accolades as a high school teacher in Elyria, Ohio. She has been nationally recognized as one of our nation’s best teachers, and her career was seemingly on a fast track to success. So it came as a huge surprise when this award winning superstar teacher announced that she would be resigning at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
Her reason for resigning just when it seemed that she had nothing but success ahead of her? The Common Core…
Gasps of disbelief followed the announcement made during an education forum aimed at unraveling for parents the intricacies of the standardized testing system. Starr was at the podium, delivering a talk on how special education students are suffering under the new system based on Common Core standards and more rigorous assessments. She said as a veteran intervention specialist at Elyria High School, she could no longer watch silently from within the confines of a structured school day.
Yet with a stellar 16-year career under her belt, Starr said the new testing culture is killing education.
“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”
The tests are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs, she said. And, even an individual education plan is not enough to shield students from the rigors of state expectations.
As a former public school teacher who had to deal with the horrible mess that No Child Left Behind and then retired as the state began shifting to new Common Core compliant standards – I can attest to the fact that many teachers feel this same burden that Ms. Starr does. Even those of us who deal with general ed and advanced courses are overwhelmed by the amount and specificity of information that must be “known” by our students in order for them to do well on their tests.
But it’s more than that – this drive to conform our national education to a single standard will irrevocably lead to more testing. Why? Because testing is the only way to measure that the students are learning what the central government (or in the case of Common Core the central education planners) wants them to know. There just is no other way to judge them.
The Common Core (and any other system that would seek to nationally integrate every public school student) is doomed to failure because it will necessarily continue to drive teachers to teach to a test. That’s not education, that’s indoctrination. Our current public school model is not designed to teach, but to manipulate, and that is at the core of our current national education crisis.
Over at the Daily Caller News Foundation, Blake Neff writes that conservatives and teachers are uniting over our current education crisis, mostly because both groups agree that the government is making our kids take too many standardized tests!
Long at odds, America’s largest teachers union and one of its leading conservative advocacy groups have come to agree on one thing: The federal government is making children take too many standardized tests.
Under No Child Left Behind, each state is required to test students in reading and mathematics every year from grades 3-8, as well as once in high school. Both houses of Congress are working to update the law, and one of the issues in play is whether this mandate should remain. President Barack Obama, civil rights groups and business organizations support keeping the mandate, but teachers unions and small-government conservatives are forming an unusual alliance to oppose it.
The National Education Association, which has almost three million members, is launching an ad blitz in several states over the congressional recess in order to pressure lawmakers to eliminate federal testing requirements. The group is pumping $500,000 into a series of television and radio ads urging parents to contact lawmakers and tell them to scale back standardized testing.
In its TV ad, the NEA complains that “rather than learning the skills they need, students are learning to fill in bubbles,” and it claims students are spending as much a one-third of class time on either taking or preparing for tests.
“Now is the time… to fight for the opportunity for all students to receive a quality public education, more time for students to learn and more time for teachers to teach,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in a statement.
Meanwhile, on the right, Heritage Action, an influential public advocacy group related to The Heritage Foundation, is bashing the current Republican proposal in the House, dubbed the Student Success Act, which would update NCLB while keeping annual tests. The campaigns seek to resurrect a push against annual testing that appears on the verge of petering out. In January, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander introduced a proposal that would have allowed states to eliminate annual tests, but the proposal was withdrawn in the face of sharp criticism from Democrats and the implied threat of a veto from Obama. If teachers and conservatives can’t quickly revive that proposal or encourage lawmakers to adopt a similar one, they may see one of their best ever chances to roll back federal control of education slip away.
They have one reason for optimism: This week marks the beginning of standardized testing season, as Ohio becomes the first state to roll out long-awaited tests aligned with Common Core. If the new tests run into any major glitches, lawmakers could be getting an earful from frustrated parents.
Lindsey Burke, an education analyst with The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that keeping annual tests was one of many ways current Republican proposals on NCLB reform are disappointing.
“This is, in the current environment, a missed opportunity,” she said. “If we haven’t cut spending, if we haven’t cut programs, if we haven’t cut mandates, have we really reduced federal intervention?”
You can learn more about the Teacher of the Year who is leaving public education from this local news story on her stellar career.