Teachers in New York are expected to adopt the new “Common Core Curriculum” this year. The curriculum, already adopted by many states, seeks to standardize education across the country. Proponents say it will lead to higher standards and collaboration opportunities across state lines. Critics say it industrializes education, leaves no room for creativity and treats children as “empty file cabinets.”
The roll-out in the Rochester City School District has been a mess. Teachers have told me they have not had professional development and numerous texts are on back order, as everyone in the state ordered them at the same time. They say the lesson plans are very difficult and highly prescriptive, even giving them what to say to children word-for-word. Their principals are demanding they follow each “module” to the T. One teacher told me she’s upset there’s
no limited fiction allowed for her young students this school year.
Perhaps most frustrating to the teachers is knowing they are now being evaluated on teaching a brand new curriculum for which they’ve had little support. They are in the midst of “pre-testing” students to set a baseline of knowledge to be compared with how the students perform on tests at the end of the year.
Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski sent an email to staff summarizing their frustrations. Here is a portion:
It’s only six weeks into the new school year but teachers are already overwhelmed and frustrated like never before. And understandably so: APPR, Common Core State Standards, K-8 “Grow-out” schools, lesson planning dictates, attendance-taking mandates, mountains of additional paperwork, lagging information, lack of classroom supplies, and so much more. And it’s rapidly undermining the conditions for effective teaching and learning in our schools.
Here’s a partial list of some of the challenges and a brief update on our efforts to address them:
· Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). This bad law, imposed on us by the State under the threat of de-funding more than 500 teaching positions, continues to frustrate teachers. In some instances, the pre-testing unfairly is planned to occur weeks after teaching. And in virtually all cases, the excessive testing requirements are costing a massive loss of precious instructional time. We are addressing both of these legitimate concerns with the District.
· Lesson planning dictates. Some school principals are requiring that teachers’ lesson plans be done according to a prescribed format. While teachers obviously plan their lessons, they should not be micromanaged in that exercise. During last week’s Living Contract negotiations, the District agreed with us and instructed all principals that they cannot dictate any particular lesson-planning format.
· Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Teachers have received virtually no training on CCSS and have not been provided the needed tools, supplies, time or texts. We have already registered teachers’ concerns with the District and are negotiating for relief as soon as possible. So far, the District has informed us only that Common Core related classroom resources were ordered last week, that a schedule of professional development about Common Core will be finalized by the end of this week, and that every Elementary School classroom will be equipped with a Smart Board by January 1.
It sounds like this major overhaul was implemented too quickly. I wonder what’s happening in suburban districts. I overheard a Penfield teacher say he was not happy with the modules and could not obtain materials.
I think the public has not been adequately informed of this massive change in curriculum affecting millions of students and potentially causing huge headaches in classrooms.
Links of the Day:
– Even charter school proponents think teacher rating systems are terrible.
– The case of the accused swearing teacher in Buffalo shows why due process is important.
– TV ad spending in Rochester on political campaigns has hit $7.6 million. (Raises for reporters! Right? Right…)
– Unkle Rog was killed in 2003. Rochester police say it’s the epitome of a cold case.
– The HPV vaccine does not lead to more teen sex, a study finds.
– When a Cortland State football player signed up for team, he got his cheek swabbed and ended up saving a California baby’s life.
– If you have to build parking garages, make them look like this.