The discussion of the relationship between the Common Core standards and early childhood education (K and pre-K) continues with this comment, responding to Karen Nemeth’s earlier post:
“The federal government has in no way established requirements for what must be taught in preschool. Standards do not equate to a curriculum. As I often tell my audiences, standards are like ingredients, but each classroom still needs its own recipe for how to use those ingredients. A curriculum is more like a recipe.”
This is a fine example of the detachment and misunderstanding of those who are no longer in the classroom but rather members of organizations facing “audiences” and who have little comprehension of the radical changes that have taken place in the day-to-day realities of teaching today.
Because the federal government has established no requirements states are interpreting those requirements themselves (with great support from profit-making publishers and political agenda-driven authors of the CCSS), based largely upon the in-place curriculum established under NCLB and Reading First. I have recently read several articles lamenting the fact that in many places the CCSS are being treated exactly as a curriculum by states and checklists are proliferating everywhere. The interpretations of the CCSS into state and district curriculums have little to do with best practices and teacher professional knowledge. While NJ may have created a model plan the proof of the metaphorical recipe is in the pudding produced by the local districts and school administrators as head chefs with ultimate control, not the teacher “cooks”.
From required formats for lesson plans that must be turned in and approved weekly by administrators to a constant barrage of memos and emails from district personnel highlighting the latest mandates, required assessments, and ever-changing expectations that will be monitored, checked off on a list during frequent inquisitor visits, and answered to through VAM, scrambling to meet the requirements of grants, local and state laws that change yearly, and federal guidelines that rival drug testing protocols, the effect and power of teachers to control the impact of CCSS is greatly constrained and a work of great risk and peril. Why won’t academics and professional organizations admit this obvious truth?
Limited, personal anecdotal experiences of freedom and power notwithstanding, this apologia and defense of the CCSS amazes me.
“I do believe it is possible to address the preschool skills and knowledge that lead up to what is expected in K and 1st in a hands-on, creative, project-based, child centered way. We just need to make sure we do what needs to be done to prepare preschool teachers AND the administrators who supervise and support them.”
The author apparently has little knowledge or experience of Title I schools in many states where the curriculum is (and has been for the last 11 years of NCLB) delivered from on high and compliance is mandatory and enforced with great vigor and rigor, as the reformers like to say. It is fascinating to see how the author uses her own anecdotal experiences to undermine and dismiss the experiences of real PreK and K teachers who have posted their heartrending experiences and cri de coeur here on this very blog as a a warning and condemnation of CCSS.
She chooses instead to address her colleagues in academia and professional organizations. “We know better and we are more qualified to speak on these issues” is the message I received, intended or not. We all were told for years that NCLB had great potential to fix the problems of poverty and education. We were told that Reading First was not an end to good reading instruction and that “good” teachers would be able to subversively resist the worst of the many foolish requirements. We were told that we should see all the reforms as “opportunities” to speak out professionally and have an impact. None of that was true then and it is not true now.
The professional organizations, the schools of education, and the pillars of academe largely left those of us who choose to stay in classrooms without aid or cause while they continued their academic exercises in self-promotion, profiteering, and self-aggrandizement. Diane has proven to be a great exception and I have great respect and trust in her. I’m afraid that I don’t automatically grant that respect and trust to those who list their credentials (I have credentials too — NBCT, BA in English, MA in English, MA in Teaching and Learning, two time recipient of district Teacher of the Year Award, member of IRA, NCTE, NCTM, etc., etc.) and then defend the indefensible while telling me that my experiences and interpretations are faulty and unwarranted while defending the status quo or claiming that teachers will be able to turn the sow’s ear of CCCS into silk purses.
Also, full disclosure: you did not highlight your involvement with the NAEYC in your bio or defense.