UFT President Michael Mulgrew constantly tells us we must be on the same side as the parents. I agree but when it comes to Common Core, it looks as though the parents are in a different place than our president.
It is kind of sad that our President doesn't recognize people like me and other like minded Delegates much because if he opened up the forum a little, an exchange of ideas would be helpful for our union.
Robert's Rules say people have to rise to claim the floor in a parliamentary style meeting but UFT tradition has always been to raise one's voting card and wait to be recognized by the chair at Delegate Assembly meetings. Former UFT President Randi Weingarten used to make a minor showing about democratic protocol but current President Michael Mulgrew generally believes in one sided debate, an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Since his proposal on Common Core testing last week was much more controversial than he expected, he couldn't get away with his usual routine of calling on one or two speakers in favor of his policy and then having someone ask that debate be closed. The usual policy on debate is a total violation of Robert's Rules.
I will concede that he actually called on two speakers who opposed his resolution last Wednesday to call for a moratorium on the results of high stakes results being attached to Common Core tests. Those two speakers made excellent points on why we need more than just a delay in implementing high stakes results for Common Core tests.
However, President Mulgrew never called on anyone at all on my side of the hall where most of the people who form the opposition to Unity Caucus sit.
I had my card raised at the DA. I wanted to talk about on why Common Core needs to be thrown out now. I attempted to speak as a parent of a four year old and as a teacher. This is what I would have said.
I oppose this resolution because it treats a symptom of a disease that is using tests for high stakes decisions while the unproven Common Core and Danielson framework disease rage on.
The excellent journalist Valerie Strauss had a piece on Common Core and young children back in January on her blog in the Washington Post that was written by Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, two early childhood experts. The frightening part stated that Common Core for young kids may truly be detrimental to child development. This is from the Strauss blog:
The Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative was signed by educators, pediatricians, developmental psychologists, and researchers, including many of the most prominent members of those fields.
Their statement reads in part:
We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children...The proposed standards conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades....
No research to support the Common Core Standards for young children and plenty of leading pediatricians and human development experts against it.
The Joint Statement further states, "There is little evidence that standards for young children lead to later success. The research is inconclusive; many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, nonacademic experiences, not standardized instruction-up to age six or seven.
There is a lack of research at the upper grade levels too but Common Core looks highly inappropriate for young kids. We need more than a delay on using the results of tests that shouldn't be administered at all.
Even if this resolution for a delay in using the results of Common Core tests for high stakes decisions carried and was turned into law, teachers would then be evaluated totally on the Danielson framework for teaching.
Where is the research showing that this is the best way to evaluate teachers? If one goes to the Danielson website, there is one study in support of Danielson. Guess who sponsored it? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I would trust that study about as much as I trust Michael Bloomberg or Dennis Walcott to do the right thing for public schools.
Danielson and Common Core have thin research behind them at best and yet we are staking our careers and our children's futures on both so we can get some Race to the Top peanuts. We should be opposing any system imposed on our kids and ourselves that is not fully research based and field tested.
A moratorium on high stakes decisions being made on flawed high stakes tests does not go nearly far enough.
I never had the chance to make those points as the president will not even look in my direction at the DA.
Overall, this was a very tough week for supporters of the Common Core Standards such as State Education Commissioner John King and NEA as well as AFT-NYSUT-UFT. Parents are in open rebellion as the now famous video in Poughkeepsie shows.
The Daily News even reported on the craziness of administering Common Core tests to very young children.
While my card gently weeps at the DA (sorry Beatles fans), the public tide is turning against Common Core and Commissioner John King.
Mulgrew says we have to stick with the parents but will he join their opposition to Common Core?