Friday, March 20, 2015

No Magic School Bus for You

Since the advent of Common Core, well before Mike Mulgrew offered to punch us in the face for opposing it, I've been getting complaints about it. They don't just come from the teachers, but from the supervisors and pretty much any parent who catches my ear.

I've heard stories of people surreptitiously sneaking into classrooms to photograph textbooks, and people with very young children who had to read about genocide. Not precisely sure 7 is the optimal age to introduce such concepts, but there you go.

The other day I was in earshot of someone whose kid was bringing Magic School Bus books into school, but the school found them unacceptable. Why? Because they weren't non-fiction. Too bad for the kids who love those books, because loving books is no longer rigorous or gritty enough. If you want them to be full of grit, second graders should be reading The History of Cement, from ancient Babylonian times right up to Roosevelt Island. That's the only way they'll be college ready, and Arne Duncan says we need to look second graders right in the eye and tell them whether or not they're college ready.

Most parents who are not insane don't worry much about whether or not their second graders are college ready. Of course Arne Duncan doesn't represent them, but rather Bill Gates and whatever education programs he's able to produce from his abundant and fertile hind quarters. That's why we're racing to the top, common coring, judging teachers by junk science, and Danielsoning our blues away. And not to put too fine a point on it, but who among us has ever seen Arne speak while Bill Gates drank a glass of water?

We are teaching children to hate reading, doing precisely the opposite of what we should be. We are relying on standardized tests and training our kids to pass them rather than to think. Thinking children choose their own books. Discouraging that at a young age is borderline criminal. What is the message we give children when we tell them what they love is prohibited? What will happen to kids who are told to read things in which they have no interest? 

Is that how we reach the proverbial Top we're Racing to? Or will it produce a bumper crop of disenchanted, disinterested, unimaginative drones ready to populate Walmart as associates? I'm grateful my daughter graduated last year, avoiding quite a bit of this stuff. I'd certainly be opting her out if she were still in high school. 

Just for laughs, here's a list of the groups that have passed the I Refuse resolution, as opposed to the watered down nonsense from UFT that endorses "multiple measures," meaning junk science, to evaluate working teachers.

Amityville Teachers' Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers' Association
Center Moriches Teachers' Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Deer Park Teachers' Association
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers' Association
Glen Cove Teachers' Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers' Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers' Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers' Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers' Association
North Babylon Teachers' Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oneonta Teachers' Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers' Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers' Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association

I'm grateful for all the union leaders who stand up for public school teachers, parents and children. One day I, too, hope to have one.
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