Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who Wrote What in the Common Core ELA Standards?

I remain a bit dubious about David Coleman's actual role in the creation of the Common Core ELA standards. In particular, I'm wondering if he actually just worked on the supporting narrative and commentary but not so much on the enumerated standards themselves. Kind of like a cookbook ghost writer who is responsible for everything except the recipes.

There is, as I've pointed out various times, a lot of inconsistency between the two, particularly where the commentary claims that things are required by the standards themselves that are actually entirely outside the scope of standards in general.

In his barnstorming tour, Coleman doesn't seem particularly interested in the actual standards. They don't sound like his voice. I don't even think he is interested in the role of standards in contemporary American schools. I don't think he likes standards.

I can assure you that if I was the lead author of the new national ELA standards, I'd be going around telling you how much I like my favorite standards and why you should too. You don't hear that from Coleman. (Later: I suppose he does like to talk about the standards requiring analysis of "seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance", but that one is so poorly grafted into the overall structure that I think it only reinforces my point.)

This is ok, I suppose, since maybe he didn't write them anyhow and maybe he's really working on a totally different agenda.

In the meantime, nobody in particular is promoting the standards themselves. It is all about curriculum and assessment. It isn't clear who would rise to defend the standards themselves.

The harder you look at this situation, the more it looks like either a very complicated double-bank shot conspiracy, or just a bunch of independent actors who are not as well coordinated as they'd like to think. I tend to think -- in this specific case -- it is the latter.



One survival skill that teachers have is the ability to toe the curricular reform line. They know that eventually this too shall pass and they are one year closer to retirement.

Although I tend strongly away from conspiracy, in light of the ALEC efforts I would like to see some investigative citizen journalism into who wrote what and when they wrote it.

Patrick said...

Ha! "One year closer to retirement" - that's me exactly, Terry. Getting out almost 10 years after we all gathered with such silly optimism in SF at that blogging thing. I'm not as sanguine as I once was about the "this too shall pass" defense. As union rep for my building over the last two years, I've had to push back hard on some really stupid, easily monitored constrictions on teacher autonomy. The push back is exhausting. I can do it because, still hanging in the library, I don't have lesson plans, parent phone calls, grades, or student counseling to do. Who will have the time or energy for push back when the union librarian retires?

Years ago, back in Pete Wilson days, CA had the CLAS program, California Learning Assessment System. It was teacher-driven and designed for performance assessment as well as it could be. Still had flaws, but it worked to support us talking about what we did and didn't do in classrooms. Teachers teaching teachers. Duh. It was also expensive.

There is zero money to support the CC ELA standards here in SF. Maybe no money means just another wave of "reform" to ride out. It just doesn't feel like that this time. Hell, SFUSD is buying into SBAC in a year. This time it feels like no money means Pearson binders and delivery schedules for every increasingly tenure-less and short-timing new teacher.

I feel like my father in 1972, retiring from the UAW just before the end.

Tom Hoffman said...

Now we just need comments from Tim, Will, Mark Bernstein... who else was there?