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The new Common Core standards were tested in New York state, although teachers had not been given the curriculum and students had not been taught the material. Common Core is the latest in a series of philosophies designed to raise the knowledge of students and their ability to function in our modern hi-tech world and be prepared for college.
It is interesting that the same districts in New York City that did well on the old tests did well on these new tests. Queens Districts 25 and 26 scored high and always have. The problem is that all scores went down because the new ways of reading and writing and the new, more demanding vocabulary had not been taught yet. Honors classes always taught this material.
An article in a local newspaper told of PS 122, in Astoria, whose students scored high on the new tests. The school had been doing poorly the previous year and had been slated for changes. The article did not explain what the administration and teachers did to make the scores get high, but it was probably something not permitted.
I do not know what they did, but they saved their school and jobs. The city Department of Education has strict rules on how a teacher should teach. Scripts tell what should be done every minute. If not followed, a teacher can get in trouble. Whatever they did, it probably was not permitted and they may get in trouble for doing something “independent.”
During the summer, I was down in Maryland and talked to a third-grade teacher who said she went online and learned what their Common Core tests were going to be on and prepared the students. When I told her about the things going on in the New York City schools, she said she “could never teach in such an atmosphere.”
The morale of city teachers is low. Teachers do not dare do anything different or they will be singled out by some administrators and written up. Did you know that creativity is discouraged? Several years ago, the school system prepared a script that each elementary school teacher has to follow when teaching each subject each day. They cannot deviate from the script. Even if the students do not understand the material, the teachers have to continue with the script.
And with four months left in the current administration, the DOE wants to close schools, co-locate schools and create charter schools.
Charter schools are looked upon as a panacea for neighborhoods where students do poorly, but they are just a cash cow for the education industry. Creating charter schools is a multimillion-dollar industry with private corporations, individuals and consulting firms making a fortune.
Some communities see charter schools as a way to get a semi-private school for their children paid for with public money. The charter schools have high grades because they discourage dysfunctional, English as a Second Language and special education students from attending.
Only recently have some charter schools started saying that they have some low-functioning students, but the number is far fewer than in regular public schools. Private schools can put out any disruptive or problematic student.
Teachers have been blamed for the problems. The manta is, “Get rid of bad teachers.” But what is a bad teacher? How will you evaluate a teacher’s ability? Can the new principals, who attended a 90-day program, have the knowledge?
Since a principal will be fired, they have no tenure, so if a school does poorly, some will use teachers as scapegoats. Some principals even try to get special education teachers to get their children to score higher on tests. Some of these students, but not all, just cannot do well on tests.
Can all students subject to random shootings, pressure from gangs or drug or alcohol use pass the Common Core?
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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