To the Editor:
With good conscience I need to speak out to the caring public regarding a serious government intrusion into the local public schools. The reason for this is that politics and academic theory often mix poorly with good teaching practices in the classroom.
Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a government-mandated program, instituted in order to raise the performance of both teachers and students. This nationally developed consortium is the “brain child” of politicians, corporate “innovators,” and Ivy League academicians. One of the objectives of Common Core is to quantify the teaching and learning process through “rigorous” data collection and analysis. Indeed, many public school districts in Connecticut have “professional development” manuals over 100 pages in length that impose a monumental task for school administrators and teachers alike!
I appeal to the reader, to reflect on one teacher who made a difference during your time as a child. Imagine that same teacher struggling to comply with “standards” imposed by the state. Would that teacher improve or regress? For me, I think of a math teacher who cared more about me than a quadratic equation. Absent the shackles of data collection, rubrics, and voluminous evaluations, my math teacher encouraged me to rise above the valley of academic fear to the pinnacle of curiosity and achievement in the subject he taught.
As an educator, I submit to the reader that Common Core State Standards is a wet blanket that smothers the magic of the student/teacher relationship. I believe that most people reading this opinion will recall a time when a teacher ignited the fire of motivation that became a life-changing event. It breaks my heart to see that special relationship between teacher and student encumbered by a spirit of uniformity and compliance. Furthermore, it appears that the leadership of principals, superintendents, and other key educational personnel in many communities has been challenged by CCSS due to excessive regulation.
Is there a remedy or is it too late? Only your state government representatives know the answer!
In the meantime, I suggest: Don’t make them learn — Let them learn! Don’t make them teach — Let them teach!
Donald H. Ramsey
3 Prospect Drive, Newtown November 14, 2013