In recent weeks there have been a number of “forums” around the state billed as “open discussions” on Common Core.
Open discussions. Sounds like something that should be fair and balanced. Well, it doesn’t take long to realize what they really are – one more round of one-sided rants featuring a familiar cast of characters trying to create fear and concern about higher academic standards in our schools.
It’s funny, though, that with the new standards now in their second year of full implementation in schools around the state what you mostly hear at these forums is the same tired rhetoric that prompted the Legislature to stick with the standards when the issue was debated earlier this year.
“It’s a propaganda tool.” “I call it Commie Core.” “They’re trying to destroy America.” Oh, yes, and the math is too hard and they’re trying to dumb down our kids. Isn’t that something of an oxymoron? One anti-Common Core legislator bemoaned the fact that there weren’t many teachers at his forum, while a participant at another said he didn’t know why more people didn’t show up to complain.
Well, the reasons for those things are fairly apparent if you stop and think about it. These “forums” are basically the tail wagging the dog. They’re publicity-seeking events designed to create a perception that isn’t real – that the people of Louisiana don’t want higher standards and don’t want their children to be able to compete with students anywhere else in the country. And the teachers weren’t there because there are scores of them who embrace the new standards and see their students making real progress.
In fact, that’s the story of what’s going on in Louisiana classrooms that you don’t hear. You don’t hear the voices of the teachers and principals and superintendents who are excited about the improvements they’re seeing and enthusiastic about the fact that the new standards allow educators to dig deeper into reading, writing and math and help students gain a greater mastery.
They’re the types of people that don’t go around carrying signs and coming up with slogans. They’re doing what they’re passionate about – educating our children.
Sure, the math and the reading assignments are different but so are the things kids need to know and be able to do in 2014 and beyond.
“Forums” featuring a relatively small group of opponents to positive education change are a good way to get publicity, but they’re not great for getting to understand the facts. Try talking to an effective teacher instead. What you hear about Louisiana’s academic standards might just surprise you.