Saturday, June 21, 2014

Alert: $1,000 Signing Bonuses and Delays in Teacher Taste-Testing of Rotten Common-Core Pie

I received two e-mails from UFT President Mulgrew yesterday.  I'm sure he's pretty much trying to allay our fears that we're "totally screwed" before we leave for summer break.  First, in an early morning e-mail sent on behalf of President Mulgrew and Chancellor Farina, I learned that the $1,000 signing bribe bonus will hit our direct deposit before the end of the month.

I know for many, money goes a long way towards buying loyalty.  In my mind, it doesn't come close to making up for the second-class due-process rights of ATRs or the inclusion of merit pay to divide membership.  But, then, call me #151.  After many years of waiting, I wouldn't have minded waiting for something more worthwhile.  I voted, "No."  So, morally, I may not be entitled to that money:  It's "not that I loved the Idea of Working Under a New Contract less, but that I loved True Union Solidarity more."

I received a second Mulgrew e-mail later in the day.  Here's an excerpt:

Dear Arwen,

Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature heard our concerns and have agreed to a two-year pause in attaching high-stakes consequences for teachers to student performance on Common Core-aligned state tests. Everyone recognizes that the Common Core, while the right direction for education, had a terrible rollout. Students aren’t being judged on the Common Core tests and state lawmakers made the smart decision not to judge teachers on those tests either.

Off hand, the news is good.  I was horrified to read Mulgrew's implicit assumption, however.  "Everyone recognizes that the Common Core" is "the right direction for education."  How can he make this claim?  I guess everything to the contrary goes in one ear and out the other.  Does he not know how states are pulling out like it's the plague?  Louisiana pulled out just recently.  I believe only 36 states are still with the CC program.

I don't care how much PD is provided and how many CC-aligned lesson plans are sent along, I don't want the Common Core.  I don't want test companies and data companies profiting off of the misery of little kids.  I don't want to teach to someone's test today, tomorrow or ever, to save myself from professional annihilation--when I already know students living in poverty with language deficiencies and many special needs will never on average surpass the scores of children in wealthy suburbia.

As I think about it, I am sure that America has not so much bought the Common Core as been handsomely paid to adopt it.  As states begin to realize the federal morass in which they are now mired, I am sure many more will agitate for withdrawal.

I have often wondered if all of Bill Gates' money (and all his horses and all his men) had not propped up the Common Core, how far it might have reached.  Bill Gates money has gone every which way, including to the AFT and NEA.  This year, at about the time of the NPE conference in Texas, due to rank-and-file pressure, Weingarten announced the AFT would end its five-year relationship with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The states, as well, jumped on board when offered money.  They stood to gain handsome RttT grants.  They are now realizing that the money will run out and they will be left to foot the big bills for implementation.

I have always believed education should be a reserved power, as the Founders intended.  The states must be in the driver's seat.  I believe the closer education comes to the grassroots, the better it will serve community needs and our larger democracy.  Our federal government already has enough business and thorny issues to keep it occupied.  And, I am very worried about much of that business.  Why would I want our federal government taking on even more?  We are not communist and we are not a dictatorship.  We do not need federal hands in every pie.  In my mind, the Common Core is a recipe for one rotten pie and we would all do well to keep our hands and those of our children clear of it!
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