The February 28 New York Times editorialized on what New York needs to do to remedy its almost farcical implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Grey Lady maintains that what is needed is better professional development in the new techniques required for teaching to the new standards. The goal the Times opines, “…should be to end old-fashioned training sessions where teachers attend conferences at which they listen to lectures for a few days a year and move toward continuous instruction by master educators who observe teachers at work, providing help and feedback. “
Continuous instruction – there’s a nightmarish thought, developed by an editorial writer who clearly knows nothing about the workday of a public school teachers and probably cares less. Put aside how we are to select the master teachers to do the observing and provide the feedback, what’s the evidence to make anyone think continuous scrutiny and feedback will improve the investment of teachers in the Common Core, a set of standards that classroom teachers had no hand in developing and which most of the ones I know believe to be developmentally inappropriate? Where is the time for this feedback coming from when the current day of most teachers is filled with more tasks than the paid time allows them to accomplish, many working several hours a day at home? In my district, we had to collectively bargain a mechanism to ensure opportunities for elementary teachers to use the bathroom because some principals were making them feel that they were expected to grit their teeth and hold it in.
No New York Times, the problem is not bad staff development, although districts have wasted huge sums of money on it. The problem is that the Common Core Standards can’t be owned by teachers because they don’t come from teachers. They come from people who are by and large ignorant of child development and are being shoved down the throats of practitioners by fools like New York’s Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch, people whose practical experience of public education is just about nil.
Everyone, including the New York Times, knows what public schools need to do except the people who work in those schools. We have developed an authority of ignorance.