Teachers Declare Mutiny on Common Core

Eric Wilson - 2014

A child is precious, irreplaceable, and unique.  If you don’t think so, ask any mother or teacher.  I believe this is the reason why some of the biggest critics against national Common Core standards are not only moms but educators as well.  They understand best of all that children are unique – not common.

A good teacher is priceless, exceptional, and unparalleled.  If you don’t think so, ask anyone that has been influenced at some point in their life by that special teacher.  The one that challenged their students, made them think, and inspired young people.  These are some of the reasons why I am one of the biggest critics against Common Core.  We understand that teachers, too, are unique – not common. 

Most of the criticism about Common Core seems focused on the child, political motivations, data mining, cost, and the bureaucracy it will create.  While all of these are valid objections, it seems less attention has been given to the educators and the consequences for them.  I believe there is something of a misconception that all teachers are behind these policies and are pushing this reckless curriculum.  In truth, you are beginning to hear their voices.  Common Core directly and negatively impacts many of the qualified teachers, and this is why more and more of them are beginning to speak out.

They fear that Common Core national standards will create mediocrity in our students.  What impact do you think it will have in our educators as well?  A good teacher finds a way to inspire and teach, but this will grow more and more difficult under the pressure to “teach to the test” and taking the individuality out of their craft.  In a recent interview with teachers, they told “the new education approach is turning their lessons into little more than data-dispensing sessions, and they fear their jobs are being marginalized.” - Teachers complain Common Core-linked lessons little more than scrip...posted December 8, 2013. 

Another big complaint is the push for a “conveyor belt” system to train our children.  What about the teachers?  Will they be transformed into “assembly line” workers of our youth?  With the new “reforms” in place, teachers focus all efforts toward standardized test subject matter and classrooms are filled with relentless drilling.  This is not something that inspires able people to become teachers or makes children eager to learn.  From the same article, another teacher from New Jersey public school said “the rigid new instructions for teaching have left her and her colleagues feeling like robots.”  She went on to say, “All the teachers at my school, all we talk about is how we don’t teach anymore and we feel like robots just doing what we are told to teach and can’t have any creativity for the students to enjoy themselves.”

In the Washington Post, a public school teacher in Delaware recently wrote a letter published November 30, 2013 that added, “if you give a teacher a script, which may or may not have been written by educators, you in essence hobble that teacher and reduce the ability to detour from the script even slightly so as to make sure everyone ‘gets’ what's been done before moving on.”

For many teachers, the aspects of their profession that were once fun and led them to become deeply passionate about it have been replaced by simply being judged on how they adhere to the new standards.  We have created a disposable workforce to stamp out a production line of children, and once “exceptional” teachers are now only “satisfactory.”  The public school teacher from Delaware said it this way, “Standards-BASED education gets it all wrong.  They assume the best teaching and the best learning can be quantified with tests and data.  Yet, I’ve never once had a student compliment me on my academic knowledge or my data collection skills.  I’ve never had a student thank me for writing insightful test questions or for staying up late to write a stunning lesson plan.  But students HAVE thanked me for being there, for listening to them, for encouraging them, for believing in them even before they could believe in themselves.  Meeting our student’s academic needs begins with seeing them as human beings with worth and capability and gifting, not as research subjects.”

For an ample amount of reasons, national Common Core standards are bad for our children.  They are equally destructive to good teaching and exceptional educators.  Common Core holds the educator hostage while forcing good teachers to go from challenging students and truly educating to simply reciting and lecturing.  It puts pressure on national testing, which bullies educators to not only begin teaching to the test but – far worse – teaching to protect their jobs.  It is no problem for a teacher to adjust the pacing or style of a lesson, but to be handed a script – and often monitored to be sure there is no deviation – becomes a problem.  Common Core forces a continual narrowing of the freedom a teacher has in the classroom by adding burdensome requirements without direction on how they might accomplish them.

Many parents and individuals have been speaking out loudly against Common Core, and it seems like we are just now starting to hear from teachers as well.  Maybe because it is just filtering in to the classrooms, or maybe they – like we – are now seeing that they have the most to lose from the implementation of these standards.  It is the educators that will be handcuffed and no longer permitted to do the job they once loved – teaching and inspiring our youth. 

It is my hope that more and more will speak out and that this gets repealed in each state – not from the outside but by those in the system fighting for our children.  Let those exceptional teachers stand up for the children they love and demand their classrooms back.  Rather than telling you what to teach, what to say, and measuring you on test data…why don’t we instead give a good teacher a reasonable class size, the pay they deserve, and the freedom to teach, and prove that exceptional teachers can indeed create plans of their own and carry them out to inspire students once again?