The Common Core (CCSS) is approaching a tipping point, defined by Malcolm Gladwell as,
The word “Tipping Point” comes from the world of epidemiology. It’s the name given to that moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It’s the boiling point. It’s the moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards. [in my example, downwards].
While the Common Core aficionados, the editorial boards of the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the NY Daily News laud the CCSS parents, principals and teachers are increasingly pushing back.
The parties responsible for providing the dollars, the electeds at the federal, state and local levels read the editorials and place that finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
As Tip O’Neill so succinctly put it, “All politics is local.”
In July the test scores will be released and the attacks will resume – dramatic drops in scores and the consequences – angry parents, teachers and principals – next year the Regents exams will reflect the CCSS and the attacks will reprise as more kids fail Regents exams and graduation and college readiness rates plummet.
Commissioner King bravely defends the decision to dive into the CCSS.
As a state, the percentage of students scoring proficient or above will likely decrease as a result of the more challenging expectations of the Common Core around careful analysis of text, writing with evidence from sources, applying math skills to real world problems, and critical thinking. The results this summer will provide a new baseline against which we – parents, educators, and students – can measure our progress toward college and career readiness.
The current implementation of the CCSS angers the public, the specter of the Bloomberg fall from grace over flawed school policies will resonate among the electeds.
We are approaching a tipping point.
Presidential aspirant Cuomo will see the “handwriting on the wall,” as the voting public loses faith, as polls show their opposition, for Cuomo, blame has to placed.
AFT President Randi Weingarten in a speech this morning at the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) offers a way out. See NY Times article here and an excellent Huffington Post article here.
With David Coleman, the father of the Common Core in the audience Randi asked,
So, what if I told you there is a way to transform the very DNA of teaching and learning to move away from rote memorization and endless test-prep, and toward problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork—things I know many of you have been advocating for years? And what if I told you there is a way to do that not a generation from now, but for students today, who will be the employees you’ll hire tomorrow?
For Weingarten the CCSS is at a crossroads,
I predict these standards will result in one of two outcomes: Either they will lead to a revolution in teaching and learning. Or they will end up in the overflowing dustbin of abandoned reforms, with people throwing up their hands and decrying that public schools just don’t work. And the coming months will determine which outcome comes to pass.
The AFT President makes a simple suggestion – take a deep breath – declare a moratorium on the impact of high stakes testing – make 2013-14 a “save harmless” year – spend a year working out an implementation plan.
An implementation plan must include curriculum, professional development and time—but they aren’t sufficient. A high-quality implementation plan also means involving the frontline educators who are responsible for engaging students in critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and the other skills expected in the Common Core. And the plan can’t just be imposed from on high. It needs to be designed with and by teachers—ideally through their collective bargaining agent. The only way this will succeed is if teachers have input and ownership. Teachers rise to the occasion. The more input and supports they have, the more confident they are about mastering these instructional shifts.
I fear the CCSSaphiles will push forward, continuing to test and punish, continuing to ignore the valid doubts of teachers and parents.
At the beginning of her speech Weingarten raised the thick volumes of the ELA and Math Common Standards – teachers envision emblazoned across the cover of the volumes the words of Dante, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”), the Core, rather than graduate students with college and career skills will be viewed as a punitive device, another way to punish, to humiliate, a “reform” that will fade and gather dust.
The clock is ticking.
Sitting in the audience: Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Education D’Shaun Wright, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and a long list of “movers and shakers.”
After months of exemplary approval ratings Governor Cuomo’s ratings have plummeted from 74% to 59%. It’s only a matter of time before the backlash over high stakes testing will begin to splash the Governor.
Mayor Bloomberg, in his last year, his education approval ratings have dived,
… that 56 percent of registered voters in New York City say they trust the union more to go to bat for students. Less than a third, 31 percent, said they trust Bloomberg more.
The Common Core, to use a Gladwell analogy is ” a meme, [an] idea that behaves like a virus–that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects,” the Common Core will either be rejected as a terrible idea or accepted as a brilliant approach to changing education.
Read and/or watch Weingarten’s speech here.