theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

July 14, 2014

Common Core: The untold story


The Ada News

Ada —

Oklahoma public school educators may be forgiven if they liken themselves to a soccer ball in a World Cup championship match. Just like that round sphere, they are being chased down and figuratively kicked from side to side, sometimes advancing forward only to be frantically booted in the opposite direction by members of an opposing team. 

At no time do the players stop to ask their advice as to which play(s) to call to best achieve the goal. Such is the case with Common Core standards that Oklahoma’s state legislature nixed last month with the blessing of Gov. Mary Fallin. 

It turns out there are two teams on the field that do not include common education teachers or administrators. The first team is the state legislature. The opposing team is the state board of education, four members of which are now suing state legislators for infringing upon their turf in the matter of revising state education standards. Board members see it as their legal right. 

According to Janelle Stecklein, CNHI state reporter, only 19 of 149 Oklahoma state legislators list any classroom teaching experience. Stecklein writes, “That means the fate of the state’s new education standards will be in the hands of businessmen, a motivational speaker, a funeral director, attorneys, farmers, doctors and pastors.” 

Noble professions, all. Still, one doesn’t have to wonder how these same legislators would react to educators setting standards for their respective areas of expertise. 

The kicker is that only six members of the board of education list teaching experience in their bios. 

The overriding point is that it wouldn’t matter if all state legislators and all state school board members had experience in education. The ones who need to be included in the process are those who are being kicked around on the playing field, which is to say teachers and administrators themselves. 

Then again, the real untold story is that educators do not object to Common Core standards. Their beef is in having their futures dependent on how all students perform on standardized tests. Some say athletic coaches’ futures depend on how their students perform on the playing field. Why can’t classroom teachers be held accountable in the same fashion?

The answer is simple and obvious. Let teachers pick and choose which students take the test and they’ll accept that in a heartbeat. But when they have to be responsible for ALL students, that’s a game changer, one no coach whose future depends on winning would accept.