I would strongly recommend that the legislators eliminate the Common Core State Standards and rescind any laws that promote “one-size-fits-all” curricula, high stakes testing, unprotected data storage and a regressive teacher evaluation process.
In my opinion, the current “reform” initiative threatens all that is good in educational practice these days while only offering unfounded promises that its “reforms” will make any real difference in solving the politically untenable problem of poverty and inequitable educational opportunity in our society.
What is clear to me is that these so-called “reforms” are — for the most part — based on strongly held opinions by non-educators who seek to profit from their demagogy and demoralizing initiatives. As a school psychologist who has worked with children, their parents, teachers and school administrators for 40 years, I find it continuously disheartening to have the profession of education, to which I have dedicated my life, maligned and misrepresented by persons who have never taught a classroom of young children or adolescent youngsters.
The educational reform movement and the establishment of Common Core State Standards continues the misguided and ill-conceived market-based, data-driven, business-minded onslaught that has run roughshod over educational philosophy and practice and all that has been learned about the psychology of learning in the past 50 years. Since these unproven Common Core State Standards have never been tested, this educational reform movement has hoodwinked the media and the unsuspecting public by promises it cannot possibly keep.
So, I ask that you consider alternative viewpoints and allow a true dialogue to take place with teachers of children at all ages who understand the day-to-day joys and challenges associated with developing the minds of our future citizens.
There are many insightful voices of educators who are trying to be heard, including Diane Ravitch, Anthony Cody, David Elkind, Jonathan Kozol, Joan Almon, Chip Wood (to name but a few), who have a much clearer understanding of what it takes to motivate and address the needs of learners across the socioeconomic divide in our society today. However, teachers and their supporters have been purposely left out of this educational reform movement because their input would be contrary to the “one-size-fits-all” curricular approach and would be strongly opposed to the incessant high-stakes testing regimen, excessive data collection and massive (and unprotected) storage of what-had-previously-been considered private and confidential information. (Would you like your potential employer to access your late-developing reading profile or your test profile during your unmotivated adolescent years?)
At a time when critical thinking is needed, we should not be fooled by unfounded promises developed and promoted by persons who have never taught in a classroom: Arne Duncan, Stefan Pryor, David Coleman, Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, Salman Khan, Bill Gates — all vocal in expressing their opinions have absolutely zero public school teaching experience and yet have profited “big time” and will continue to profit from their endeavors.
It is time to listen to the classroom teachers who give tirelessly and unselfishly to their students. After all, do you want to risk your child’s or grandchild’s education to a misguided, ll-conceived and unproven “reform” movement.
John R. Bestor, a longtime school psychologist, is a Sandy Hook resident.