#edreform and #commoncore: All aboard Wisconsin’s Crazy Train

What a week and it’s only Wednesday morning.  On Monday morning I went to a press conference held by Wisconsin Democrats from the state assembly to announce that they are introducing “accountability” legislation to counter Republican “accountability” legislation.  At the conclusion of the press conference I simply pointed out that “accountability” is actually the problem because it simply requires us to measure what we already know—poverty matters most.  Therefore accountability legislation does nothing except keep us from dealing with the real problem.  This prompted me to write the following and send to a local progressive list serve.:

What the Democratic representatives presented today was an inability to think creatively and powerfully.

They refuse to take a bold position on the scourge that destroys the educational dreams of children, families and communities—poverty.

When presented with yet another chunk of evidence that zip code matters, our representatives took this monumental opportunity to introduce “powerful” new accountability legislation that won’t do a damn thing except continue to measure the devastating toll poverty takes on the educational aspirations of poor children.

Why? Why? Why? Why are we hypnotized by accountability?  Testing private school students won’t help children in poverty.  In fact every dollar spent on holding private schools accountable is a dollar wasted.

When will any leader emerge and declare war on accountability systems that continue to just measure the opportunities we fail to provide children in poverty?

Today (Wednesday) we find out that Wisconsin state Republicans have introduced legislation to do away with Common Core standards and replace them with standards essentially written by—get ready—legislators.

The legislation, introduced in both the Senate and Assembly, would create a 15-member board to create model academic standards. It would be charged with writing new academic standards starting with English, reading and math within a year of the bill’s enaction. The board would have three years to create standards for social studies and science.

“It sets up a process that would replace Common Core within the year and creates Wisconsin-specific standards,” said Jason Rostan, legislative aide to bill author Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa.

Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, said Tuesday that Walker and his staff have been working with lawmakers on the legislation, and that Walker looks forward to the bill coming to his desk.

After reading the article I decided that Someone has to say this!

First.  Read this to learn about the Common Core. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/11/common_core_standards_ten_colo.html

Next is why? Why? Why do we continue to propose writing standards again and again?  We have been writing standards, curriculum, and tests for the past thirty years.  And what happens every single time we measure proficiency according to the shiny new standards of the time?  We find out that we have an achievement gap.  Why would we again write new standards?  The evidence is clear.  The act of writing standards does nothing—NOTHING— to improve the educational experience of all students particularly minority students and students from distressed communities.

The entire accountability movement based on standards, tests, and punishments is designed to do two things.  One, redirect public monies to testing, data management, and educational “consulting” companies.  The second, is to perpetuate the “failing schools” narrative and dismantle the entire system of public education. Why do you think we keep proposing education reform that has been empirically, culturally, economically and historically proven to do nothing except keep politicians employed and their reelection donors swimming in tax payer monies?

We don’t need “new” standards and we don’t need “new” tests.

We NEED a bold vision and strong leaders willing to openly and aggressively fight the faux education reform pushed by politicians and their corporate funders.  And we need these same leaders to demand that we address the real issues that create disastrous schooling experiences for children.

  • What are we going to do with hungry children?
  • What are we going to do with sick children?
  • What are we going to do with homeless children?
  • What are we going to do with children living in violent communities?
  • When are we going to make sure children have a rich early-childhood experience and access to great books?

We need community schools with wrap around services that are desegregated, funded equitably (not equally) and committed to democratic and social justice discourse.

We absolutely DO NOT need unqualified, and inept politicians engaging in writing new standards.

Standards are not the problem.

Our willingness to allow children to sleep in cars when it’s -20 degrees is the problem.  Institutional poverty created by or encouraged by politicians that work for campaign contributions instead of the welfare of the commons is the problem—not standards!

Follow Tim Slekar on Twitter: @slekar

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  1. Bravo! Someone had to say it, and you said it very well.

  2. UFF DA (to quote my Norske ancestors… rolling in their
    This bill smells like the lutefisk they loved.

  3. The accountabilists have run from real accountability for the past 50 years by implementing a succession of mismeasures aimed to divert attention away from the structural social and economic issues that are responsible for inequalities of all varieties.

    It’s hard to decide which is more ridiculous: Bill Gates in charge of writing the nation’s curriculum, or Scott Walker in charge of writing Wisconsin’s. A matter of scale, perhaps.


  1. […] Timothy D. Slekar What a week and it’s only Wednesday morning. On Monday morning I went to a press conference […]

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