Arthur Goldstein teaches high school in Queens, New York. Many of his students are English language learners. He blogs at NYC Educator. His blog is one of the best in the nation.

He wrote the following for readers of this blog:

How Smart Will Common Core Make Our Kids?

Judging from the editorials in the papers, you’d think Common Core was the best thing since sliced bread. Actually, sliced bread is highly overrated, as anyone with fresh artisan bread and a good knife can attest.

The Daily News predicts over 60% of our kids could fail Common Core tests, and appears to see this as a good thing. Yet, as a public school teacher, if 60% of my students were to suddenly fail, I highly doubt my principal’s first instinct would be to compliment me on my high standards.

I’m also willing to bet anything my students would not appreciate it very much. They’d be particularly upset, vocally upset, if I’d given them tests for which I had not prepared them at all. I could certainly explain to 34 teenagers that it was urgent I raise standards, that it was an emergency, and that there was, therefore, no time to prepare or test my methods. Nonetheless, I would not wish to have to face them on a daily basis afterward.

Their parents would not be happy either. And yet, when NYS Education Commisioner John King advocates much the same thing, the Daily News says he’s “fighting the good fight.” It’s not much of a fight when he’s facing down a press corps that cheers each and every untested reformy notion that comes down the pike. It would be tougher to explain huge failure rates to a group of public school parents (like me).

One of the most remarkable statements I’ve seen was from the Daily News editorial, which asserted our kids were “nowhere near as smart as they need to be.” Can they seriously believe Common Core tests measure intelligence?

I don’t give tests to see how smart kids are. I give them primarily to see how well students have mastered material I’ve introduced. I’ve tested kids who barely speak English, kids who live with broken or improvised families, kids who work nights helping their parents deliver papers, kids who travel hours just to get to school, and kids in situations I cannot even publicly describe. Here’s something I know for sure—very smart students fail tests.

I keep hearing about how Common Core measures reading comprehension. One good way to to improve that is via tricking kids into loving what they read. If you can get them to do that (and I’m not at all persuaded any new tests will), they’ll be better equipped to plod through The History of Cement, or whatever delights Common Core has in store for them. Other tests will certainly continue to reflect student preparation, or how well they can select A, B, C, or D. None of this tells us how smart kids are.

I’m just a lowly teacher, but I don’t see it as our job to make kids smarter. It’s our job to inform and prepare them, and for far more than test-taking. It’s our job to awaken or inspire their passions. It’s our job to make them love this great gift that is their lives.

And frankly, John King, who sends his kid to a Montessori school where none of these tests are applicable, has an awful lot of gall to tell us they’re what our kids need. Why on earth doesn’t he want our kids to have what his kid has?