Monday, November 18, 2013

Teachers who don't know how to teach are complaining about Common Core in Chula Vista Elementary School District

A parent protests at CVESD (apparently motivated by negative attitudes of teachers toward Common Core)

See all posts regarding Common Core.

Good grief, teachers! You're supposed to be professionals. If someone gives you a concept to teach, you should be able to teach it.

For years, teachers thought they were doing their jobs as long as they tore through the curriculum, making sure they were always on the highest page possible in the book. They weren't giving the kids--not even the fast learners--a deep understanding of concepts. If they had focused intensely on basic concepts they wouldn't have left so many kids behind.

Now they're complaining because no one is spoon-feeding them with lesson plans by pointing to a page in a textbook.

Common Core is nothing more than the type of teaching that all these teachers should have been doing all along.

Parents should be pleased. The school district is finally doing the right thing.

School officials have been cashing in on education programs as far back as I can remember. At last they've got a program to be proud of. It's time the US caught up to the teaching methods of higher-scoring countries.

Chula Vista school admin moves forward with Common Core Standards
Resistant parents say they are ignored and harassed
By Susan Luzzaro
Nov. 18, 2013

The Chula Vista Elementary School District had their first public hearing November 13 on how to deploy 4.6 million state dollars to implement “Common Core State Standards” and the “Smarter Balanced Assessments.” The rollout of these new standards and obligatory computerized testing generated a variety of concerns from district parents.

Mothers with young children waited hours to give their input because the district agendizes public comment last. One mother prefaced her remarks by quoting the head of the Chicago teachers’ union, Karen Lewis, who said, “We’re flying the Common Core airplane as we’re building it.”

[Maura Larkins comment: If a teacher didn't learn how to fly the teaching-a-concept airplane in teacher preparation classes, he or she certainly should have figured it out after a year or two in the classroom. If you don't manage to teach everything in the Standards, so be it. But don't pretend you don't know how to get to work and create the hard data that will help refine the time frames for the Standards.]

The quote refers to the fact that Common Core Standards were not field-tested prior to implementation and state-approved materials, and some Spanish-language testing material is still in the process of being designed.

Part of the district’s discussion the night of November 13 dealt with how best to use the one-time-only state money to get schools wired, purchase laptops, train teachers, acquire materials, and get students keyboard-ready for tests.

The district is considering apportioning $2.2 million to purchase laptop computers for the assessments; this will include 2759 laptops and 89 carts. The district considered iPads but determined the keyboard was not the best match.

In addition to state funding, technological upgrades for the school sites will come from district funds, Proposition E, and Community Facilities District Funding. The remaining money from the $4.6 million will be divided between teacher training and educational materials.

Parents who spoke in opposition to the Common Core Standards and Smarter Balance Assessment addressed several themes.

Parent Kristin Phatak said she is concerned that the new standards and computer assessments are driven by profits rather than what is good for kids. She asked the board: “Do any of the school-board members, their businesses, or nonprofits stand to make financial gains from the Common Core industry that has been built around our children?”

Phatak went on to say that in January 2013, the president of the board, Douglas Luffborough III, was a speaker at the Common Core Institute professional learning series “where his credentials included Common Core Blackbelt” a title which Phatak said offered lucrative speaking engagements.

[Maura Larkins comment: Good for him. Is Phatak suggesting that Common Core is a plot by Doug Luffborough to make money? Hardly. Sara Marie Brenner writes for the Washington Post, "Many people were invovled in the creation of the standards, including teachers, administrations, members of the business community, and even people with the ACT exam. You may see the entire list of people who took part in framing the standards on the National Governors Association website. The claim that teachers were not involved in framing these standards is blatantly false."

I think a more interesting question about Dough Luffborough is the one I discuss HERE.] ]

Phatak continued, “In February 2013 the president of the board presented a workshop at the Common Core Institute for the National Conference on Common Core Assessment where he was a keynote speaker. His title for this event was vice president for the Center of College and Career Readiness.”

In June 2011, Luffborough was scheduled to speak at the national conference on career and college readiness. His title at this event was vice president of Common Core Services West.

In a November 15 interview, Luffborough stated that he does not work for any of the companies listed in his bios and he does not have a "black belt" in Common Core Standards. He said the bios are mistaken and he will review them more closely in the future. Luffborough said he is a motivational speaker and that he was paid to speak at these conferences through his own motivational speaker business.

He said he has done educational consulting work for the past 20 years. From 2005–2009, he worked for Renaissance Learning, Inc. According to the LinkedIn website, “Renaissance Learning is the world's leading provider of computer-based assessment technology for K–12 schools. Renaissance Learning's tools provide daily formative assessment and periodic progress-monitoring technology to enhance the curriculum, support differentiated instruction…."

Luffborough was appointed to the school board to fill a vacancy in February 2009 and elected 2010.

Luffborough said he has three children in the Chula Vista school system, which was part of his incentive to be on the school board. He said he supports Common Core Standards and, as a parent, “I have seen my kids learning and growing.”

Phatak also pointed out that high-level administration in the district, cabinet members, received merit or bonus pay for student test scores. When the Reader asked her to verify that assertion, she forwarded an email from superintendent Francisco Escobedo that reads in part:

“Merit pay is not part of our compensation package for principals, teachers or administrators, however my cabinet does receive a merit pay depending on their overall evaluation. The evaluation consists of a multi-metric set of standards, which includes overall test scores as one measure.”

Another district parent named Anntoinette spoke about children experiencing stress and called it a tragedy that children who had once loved school and were successful now dread going to school.

[Maura Larkins comment: Whose fault is it if children are experiencing stress? The teachers are either venting their anger in their classrooms or simply don't know how to teach concepts. Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves for making kids suffer. But the fact is that the district has long used the most rigid, negative, unimaginative and controlling teachers to run the political machines in school staff lounges, so this is a case of chickens coming home to roost. Board members Pam Smith and Larry Cunningham have behaved the most egregiously in this respect.]

Parent Audrey read a letter she had written to her child’s principal asking to opt out her kindergartener from testing and test preparation. The letter said she has “watched with a breaking heart how her daughter’s love of school has dwindled by the inappropriate standards placed on her at her tender age.”

[Maura Larkins' response: My students always liked taking tests. I never made them worry about how they did. Tests are fun--an intellectual challenge, like playing a game. No matter what standards are in place, the teacher is always responsible for keeping kids motivated and confident. If a child isn't ready to master a specific skill, that child shouldn't be made to suffer. The child should be taught the skill at an introductory level, a level compatible with the child's readiness.]

Audrey then read a response from the principal that read, “your message has been received, the school takes the initiative to provide assessments in order to measure and monitor the progress of student learning, this must continue to provide a basic educational program…”

Parent Amber said she volunteers in her daughter’s kindergarten class because “I love to interact with the children and support my child’s hard working teacher.”

But, Amber said, “Earlier this week, a five-year-old was crying because she was frustrated with the day’s assignment of paragraph-mapping. Most of the children are struggling with learning the alphabet and they are being asked to deconstruct a paragraph….”

[Maura Larkins comment: I have listened for years to teachers attacking their colleagues who did not push kindergarteners to read. At Castle Park Elementary, a kindergarten teacher was fired, at the insistence of her fellow teachers, for giving kids the verbal background they needed before starting to read. But in the story above, it was the teacher who was at fault if she was expecting a child to read and write when mapping a paragraph, or to do anything else that was beyond her developmental stage. A 5-year-old can have lots of fun discussing an interesting story that is one paragraph in length. This teacher might be hard-working, but she doesn't seem to know how to make concepts accessible to 5-year-olds.]

Amber said she is also planning on opting out her child from all state and local testing because “that is where the money is being made and the data is being collected, and these tests will have no bearing on our children’s future.”

Cindy said, “My child has also been having difficulties with Common Core, starting last year. We had her crying, confused, utterly upset anytime she was given homework and I couldn’t help her with it. And I am a university graduate….”

These parents assert that they have been ignored by the board and some say the district has harassed them when they have attempted to share their point of view at district meetings.

Read more: be able to teach it.

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