Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Common ground leads to . . . .

In a post by John Thompson at This Week In Education he shares a piece by John Merrow called the Common Core Brouhaha.  Merrow identifies a set of circumstances involving unlikely political allies that could lead to the end of Common Core State Standards and national tests.

. . .The glib analysis, which is is actually kind of clever, goes something like this: the right hates the CCSS because they are ‘common,’ and thus denigrate individualism and limit choice, while the left detests them because they are ‘core.’ (Or maybe it’s the other way around.)

When left and right find common ground, something big is happening. In fact, we may have a perfect storm brewing, where forces upset about a variety of controversial issues create enough noise, rancor and controversy to reshape public education. These groups may not be against the same things—and they definitely are not for the same things, but the weight of their outrage may be enough to topple the Common Core State Standards and the accompanying national testing.
It is an interesting piece and not long if you have a few minutes.  I want to share one additional paragraph from the article that captures one of our core beliefs. Though we identify it as such, we are finding that it is easy at times to identify words on paper that capture it, but more difficult to consistently align with our behavior.  This was reinforced in a recent bargaining session with teachers that resulted in some creative tension, self reflection, and commitment to change practice.  On a larger scale all those that come to the table, including teachers and technocrats, must come capable of suspending long held assumptions and willing to be influenced.

If we end up starting the higher standards process all over again, let’s agree that teachers must be well-represented at the table. Education is, at the end of the day, about relationships. It’s not a commodity to be acquired, and children are not objects to be weighed and measured. Teachers have to be trusted, because the enterprise cannot succeed without them, no matter what technocrats may believe or wish.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...


Very interesting times, indeed!

In today's entry you stated that during contract negotiations "...all those that come to the table, including teachers and technocrats, must come capable of suspending long held assumptions and willing to be influenced."

This is very encouraging because in the past it seemed that the "long held assumptions" of the district included "not having much money for teachers".

There are currently so many new initiatives taking place in our district: new Common Core standards; new curricula to align with the new standards; new assessments in the new curricular areas; new state testing (SBAC); new evaluation system (TPEP); new behavioral strategies (PBIS); and even a new district leadership team and more. Whew!

Throughout all these changes, the efforts from your employees remain strong; professionally integrating these many initiatives to the Tahoma standard. I am proud to work alongside such talented, hard-working folks. I am sure you are proud as well, witnessing the outstanding commitment towards these initiatives and also the high levels of support the district received during the bond and levy initiatives.

My sincere hope is that the district bargaining committee will recognize our efforts and put forth a contract offer that recognizes and respects our hard work and dedication to the Tahoma way.

As we transition to our new leadership team, I’m sure providing a staff with high morale that feels respected for their efforts is a priority for you. I am excited to see the proposal you and your team will be offering us.