Election day is upon us…and primetime TV has been invaded by political ads, rife with hyperbole and loose rhetoric.
Every time I watch advertisements from both sides of the political circus, I wonder if people are actually buying any bit of what these rhetoricians are selling. Each of the political parties are selling snake oil; playing dangerously with semantics and on the overwhelming ignorance of the common populace.
I am a part of that populace, so don’t mistake the word ‘ignorance’ with stupidity. We simply don’t know what we should know to make well-informed decisions. I am also guilty of laughing at the absurdities present in the current political advertisements,
‘David Purdue swore under oath that he spent most of his career outsourcing.’
Here, Nunn is playing on the word ‘outsourcing,’ which is not the same thing as ‘offshoring.’ Offshoring makes all of us good, God-fearing Georgians uncomfortable…WHY IS HE SENDING OUR JOBS OVERSEAS? One may ask. That one may have been a bit misguided. After all, outsourcing is done to allow a company to focus on its strengths while allowing other companies to use their strengths to get a job done. There may, in fact, be in-state outsourcing.
‘Michelle Nunn awards inmates and terrorists.’
Do I really need to elaborate here? No? Thanks.
One of the worst political smears I have ever seen was one against a senatorial candidate in 2008 suggesting that the candidate supported child prostitution. Child prostitution. Come on, people. Think about a republican that you know. Now, think about a democrat that you know. There isn’t much separating either one of them, is there? Both are gainfully employed (hopefully); both are tax-paying citizens; both have families that they care about; both want what is best for their neighbor. Yet, both of them have different ideals: one may insist that tax breaks for large companies allow for more jobs providing a better quality of life for all, while another suggests that tax breaks and government assistance help to create better functioning citizens. One may be opposed to government interference in the private sector, while another may be insistent upon the government to protect the rights of its people. Most of us know this. And yet, come election day, we have convinced ourselves that an opposite political party is, in-fact, the enemy.
Recently, there has been no more absurd initiative than the attack on the common core standards. When it comes to the political rhetoric surrounding common core education, I am gobsmacked at how most of my neighbors have bought into the idea that the common core standards are a part of some apocalyptic conspiracy.
Here are a few points to concede before any educational initiative debate:
1. Educational initiatives re-circulate the same rhetoric populated by different titles every few years.
2. Everyone thinks they have an answer to ‘solve the problems’ present in education, when no one really does.
3. A high school career doesn’t make one qualified to fix education.
If you will give me that freedom, allow me to elaborate on the main differences in transitioning from Georgia Performance Standards to Common Core Georgia Performance Standards in the ninth grade English classroom…
1. I added more critical reading pieces from literary critics and non-fiction into the classroom.
Phew. Common core at its finest. I CAN’T BELIEVE COMMON CORE WOULD ADD A DOMAIN THAT MAKES STUDENTS READ LITERATURE CRITICALLY!
Oh wait…that’s actually a good thing. Confused?
I’m sure you are. You see, most of the changes in common core happen in the K-5 classroom, where students are given much more rigorous academic agenda. This is encouraging for me to see, because, by the time they get to me, it won’t be that much of a leap from eighth grade composition to ninth grade composition.
In truth, I can only speak to my experience as a literature teacher, and I’ve never quite grasped mathematical concepts in general. I will contend that perhaps common core mathematics should be re-visited (though many math teachers don’t mind the new common core standards). Speaking as someone who never quite got it, I certainly understand the value in combining different mathematical disciplines, so that students can grasp the bigger portrait of mathematical concepts. That is about it. But here’s the thing: if you have a well-qualified and intelligent teacher, their merits will shine in any set of standards. Especially if those standards are consistent for more than a year or two.
Unfortunately, because politicians have to eat, and privatized education has to peddle some more products, their previous initiatives will become the devil, and they will present you with a savior. That’s just the way politics work. The problem with that presents itself when teachers prepare their students for high-stakes assessments aligned to those standards, and the same standards are thrown away and replaced by standards that teachers weren’t teaching. It sends an inconsistent message to our students. As any teacher can attest, inconsistencies in the classroom are the root of all evil.
Please don’t mistake common core standards with bad teaching; if your student comes home and tells you that their teacher gave them the answers to a quiz, that is poor teaching. Providing answers or simple, unrelated, busy-work worksheets has never been a part of any set of standards in the classroom.
So, to the opponents of common core: what is it that you find is vastly different from Georgia Performance Standards? Or have you simply bought the carefully crafted lines of some clever rhetoricians?