Differences emerging on the Common Core at the NEA RA.

I will be heading down to the second state caucus meeting of the Illinois delegation in a few minutes.

NEA Board of Director Rainy Kaplan reminded me that when I said Bylaw Amendment #1 was presented to the caucus yesterday, that wasn’t precisely true. It was distributed, but the presentation of it will be today.

So far the IEA steering committee takes no position on it and the caucus has yet to hear about it.

The amendment calls for a $3 assessment to fund quality improvement programs in state affiliates.

Given NEA President Dennis Van Roekel’s aggressive defense of Common Core Standards, some see this as a Trojan Horse for the Common Core. There will be an NBI on the Common Core from the NEA Board of Directors for delegates to vote on as well.

From my conversations in the lobby, attitudes towards the Common Core on the part of delegates break down into several categories.

First, of course, there are no Tea Party, anti-federalists here. So that is not a factor.

Some delegates support the Common Core Standards out of a concern for equity and raising expectations for what students in their states are capable of doing. Many take their lead from the national civil rights organizations that see Common Core in much the same way.

Others view the Common Core as a done deal and want to be provided with the funding and the tools for implementation. Teachers worry about new and untested programs being thrown at them with no training, materials, support or money that these new programs demand.

Still others oppose the Common Core outright. And among the opponents there exists a range of arguments. Some oppose the concept of national standards as an imposition on teacher professionalism and autonomy. Some see it as a further consolidation of a corporate driven agenda by those like Pearson.

I am surprised and disappointed that the NEA leadership has apparently decided to make debate over Common Core a centerpiece of this RA.

I come from a city where 50 schools have just been closed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered millions in budget cuts to individual schools. Hundred of teachers have been pink slipped. In Illinois, the corporate interests and the Democratic Party have formed an alliance intent on destroying teacher and other public pensions.

While the same range of opinions about the Common Core exist among teachers back home, the attack on public education is much broader and deeper than can be found in the Common Core debate.

Yet apparently Van Roekel in his last year as NEA President has decided that Common Core will be his legacy.

And that the outcome of the NEA RA debate has already been decided.

As Common Core begins to unfold across the country, the NEA Representative Assembly is poised to take action this week to ensure that implementation of the new standards is done in ways that support teachers, that ensure we teach first and test later, and that we achieve the Common Core’s promise of equity for all students. All students should be expected to learn 21st century skills and content, and the expectations we have for them shouldn’t vary based on what state they happen to live in.

Van Roekel appears to want this debate to take place now.

And it seems he will get it.

7 thoughts on “Differences emerging on the Common Core at the NEA RA.

  1. Even if, which it is NOT, Common Core was vetted and evaluated as being “good”, it is too expensive to implement. With more staff and cuts in resources, how will this work? It won’t. Teachers, students and poor schools will be punching bags, again!

  2. “Let us all just hope..” We are the adults. We wouldn’t fall for what an eight grade boy tells a girl and we are not falling for this bubble gum, pie in the sky. With implementation of Common Core, Orlando will have its destruction assured. The Common Core mainly hurries it along to soon match Chicago. Florida already throws almost half the boys in Florida to the streets. This “data” is used as the excuse states need. Apparently Chicago needed little excuse. A harder test will help by throwing more 15 year old boys on the street and helps how?

  3. As I had earlier commented on a post on Diane Ravitch’s Blog (& then repeated in a comment on Ken Previti’s Reclaim Reform)–in response to a very witty “dictionary of reform” (as written by a CPS Parent!)–

    I think the term “21st Century Skills” (in reform lingo) need be further clarified to read:
    Actually, none–no need for creative thinking, critical analysis or any kind of tool needed
    to question authority and right wrongs. Skills (?) acquired from 21st Century Education
    actually include–
    1. Ability to accept minimum wages, with no questions asked.
    2. Ability to accept jobs with no benefits, no questions asked.
    3. Ability to apply for food stamps and/or to stand in long lines to receive food from food
    banks, no questions asked.
    In other words, ability to work at WalMart, and don’t ask any questions!

    (Oh, & might I add– 4. Ability to accept the fact that you will never receive any kind of
    pension–probably not even Social Security {after all, those greedy, selfish elderly people
    before you used it all up}, and so, you must have the ability to sacrifice and pinch every
    penny {of what is left of your minimum wage net after you have paid for rent, food, medical
    expenses, etc.} so that you are able to invest in some investment banker’$ 401K program
    {&–if you have seen the PBS “Frontline” report on that–be prepared for your returns to be
    less than your investments, because SOMEONE ELSE is taking a chunk of your change}.)
    But–USE the “21st Century Skills” you have learned–accept it, & do NOT question authority.

  4. Where is the drive to achieve your goal? To think outside the box, to be an individual and to create something or discover something new? Our children are to accept that no one wins a game so don’t try. They are to walk lock step to the beat of what the government tells them. History has told this already: ” Hitler’s young”.
    Common core will take education back and not forward! We need to do more research before excepting this blindly.
    Carl Sandburg stated ” if we don’t learn our history, we are doomed to repeated it.”
    We are educated people.

    1. Oh, Susan, I hope you know that I was being sarcastic, here (I know–it’s the Devil’s weapon!). That having been said, the majority of people who comment here are–like me–fighting “reform” (educational, pension and otherwise) tooth-&-nail–to the death, if you will. And–we elected Fred to represent us at the RA. In fact, those of us retired folk are actually not-that-retired, but are pretty much active & in the thick of it, because–yes WE can! (And we WILL!)

  5. Don’t lose your focus over this proposal. It has nothing to do with the issues we are facing.

    Looking for solutions to the state’s massive debt and deficit, many divergent interest groups are exhausting themselves bouncing old ideas off the inside walls of a box. Perhaps their growing frustrations will tear through the fabric of the box to a wider understanding that the box itself contains no solutions, only compromises pitting austerity measures against misleading promises in an atmosphere of confusion charged with inadequate information and outright lies. Real solutions exist only outside the box.

    One possible solution is to establish a public Bank of Illinois. Then, instead of paying interest, the state would collect it. Such a bank could provide low-interest loans to rebuild the state’s vital infrastructure, provide adequate funding for schools, health care, pensions, and inner-city renewal projects. Does this sound too far outside the box? Actually it is already operating in North Dakota. North Dakota does not have budget deficits. Information concerning the function, the purpose, and the success of The National Bank of North Dakota is readily available on the Internet. Extensive information on public banking is also available from Ellen Brown, a research attorney and financial expert on public banking. In our advanced age of information technology, ignorance is no longer an excuse for inaction. Another possible solution is to establish state-owned corporations to handle the special needs of local communities, such as water treatment, transportation, energy, and housing. Such corporations could be financed by the Bank of Illinois.

    If these suggestions conjure thoughts of evil decadent unworkable socialism, just compare them to current practices of large banks and corporate cartels getting hand-outs from the public treasury as citizens are losing their jobs, their homes, and their pensions. What should we call that? American enterprise? There is no end in sight to our current predicament. The American economy is not going to recover; wages, jobs, and security are not going to be restored; health care costs will continue to rise; and inflation will eventually wipe us all out unless we unlock our minds and break outside the box that is crushing in on us.

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