This letter was written by a New York City teacher to his union president.

“I am writing as a loyal union member and as a special education teacher in a middle class ethnically diverse neighborhood who knows a lot about testing because I spent nearly two decades assessing disabled children as part of a school assessment team.until this Mayor deemed my psychometric skills to be worthless Nevertheless, under my belt is a lot of graduate level coursework as well as thousands of hours of field experience in administering and analyzing valid and reliable norm-referenced educational assessments.

“Therefore, based upon a lot of research and reading, I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that the Common Core Standards were developed by educators and that these standards represent a valid instrument to determine if a student is college or career ready.. The Common Core Standards were not developed by educators. Many of those who developed these standards are deeply involved in the corporate educational reform movement. Many articles I have read about its development stated that the developers basically worked backwards and often disregarded some basic tenets of child development. Furthermore, we are taking on faith standards that have not even been longitudinally tested. We are basically taking on faith that these standards will make students college or career ready. We all know that so many reforms in the past half a century failed because, like the Common Core, research was lacking. Where are those “open classrooms” or the “New Math” of my childhood? Both were just fads, just as I believe the Common Core is a fad, that led to no significant educational achievement.

“I, and many others, could only accept the efficacy of the Common Core Standards if there were real research over a number of years showing that students who learned by a curriculum derived from these standards had higher achievement than those students taught by a more traditional curriculum. I have a sense that many of your rank and file teachers are unwilling to put their careers on the line based on standards that I feel was developed with a political agenda. The agenda is to convince the American people that our present public school system is a failure and that only a privatized charter-based system is the way to go. A system, that will in the end, destroy our progressive union movement.

“Any assessment in which only 25% to 35% of students can pass is invalid. A valid test is standardized in such a way that it creates a bell curve. These assessments do not come even close to creating a bell curve. Instead these assessments look more like cliffs. Many students are set to fall off such a cliff–especially students with disabilities. Special educators are taught that to help students with learning challenges, one must start where they are at. One does not start at the bottom of an unclimbable precipice. I work with many students who have, through no fault of their own, significant language impairments that make this curriculum impossible to master. What will become of many of these students when they reach 8th grade and modified promotional standards terminate? How many times are we willing to leave back such students and destroy their self esteem before we realize that what is really needed are many vocational programs that will serve the needs of a very diverse disabled population? There is a big difference between a high IQ child with minor sensory problems and one who may have a severe language impairment which results in a borderline IQ. Sadly, this curriculum will result in many special education teachers, like me, who are willing to work with the latter child, being punished by someday being rated ineffective because of an invalid assessment based upon invalid standards that work against the educational needs of such children.

“Every child needs to reach their potential. Unfortunately, I see these Common Core Standards setting up roadblocks based upon a student’s economic class, language proficiency and disability. Those born economically advantaged will either go to private schools or charters exempt from these standards or whose parents have the resources to get them the extra tutoring needed to pass these tests. Those children born to parents who do not have the resources will end up in schools that will not have the funds necessary to create the academic intervention services needed to compensate for their parent/guardian’s inability to afford the extra tutoring needed to pass from grade to grade.

“Our focus is completely wrong. These standards are broken and unrepairable. I fear, in the end, it will lead to the dismantling of our system of public education and social stratification in this great nation. In the 18th century, our founding fathers created a flawed constitution called the Articles of Confederation that they realized was unworkable. But they were smart. They scraped the document and started anew. Many of the best and brightest, at that time, got together, and through compromise and negotiation, came up with something workable. They came up with a constitution that was flexible enough to change with the times. These Common Core standards are unchangeable stone monoliths that block our way to creating a society and nation that has always believed in education as the great leveler as well as creator of economic opportunity and social mobility.

“Let us think before we jump!”