Dennis Van Roekel is a supporter of the Common Core standards. He recently said in an article in Education Week that no one has really set out their specific objections to the standards or offered a better alternative.

Two teacher-bloggers here offer help to Dennis. I know that Dennis is a dedicated advocate for teachers and for public education, so I hope he will read and take heed of advice from these two thoughtful and experienced teachers.

Here is Mercedes Schneider, a high school teacher in Louisiana, who patiently explains what the problems are.

And here is Peter Greene, a high school teacher in Pennsylvania, who offers help to Van Roekel.

Schneider writes in answer to the question, what is missing from the standards:

The entire democratic process is “missing” from the standards. CCSS is as “top-down” as it gets, and with a dash of “facilitated democracy” to offer pseudo-legitimacy: Teachers were brought in late in the process to offer “suggestions” that were even implemented word-for-word. However, no teacher was asked whether CCSS should happen in the first place, and no teacher in a “state” (only a governor and state super needed to sign the CCSS contract with USDOE for RTTT funds) that has adopted CCSS has the freedom to opt out.

Democracy is missing from CCSS, Mr. Van Roekel, and I assure you that I am not the only teacher that has a problem with that.

Greene writes in response to Van Roekel’s question about “what’s the alternative”:

When I teach logical fallacies, we call this a “complex question.” In the sales world it’s called “assuming the sale.” Either way, it is (and has been) the most odious part of DVR’s rhetorical strategy. Because “what’s the alternative” assumes that we need one.

It tacitly accepts the reformatorium assumption that US public ed is a hodge-podged mess of incompetent educators who don’t know what they are doing and who desperately need guidance and direction. What I would expect from my union president is something along the lines of, “Hey! My members are doing great work!” and NOT “Yeah, I need something to help these poor dopes that I’m president of.”

This question, and the assumptions imbedded in it, skip over one hugely massively crucial point. The people who insist we must have CCSS have not offered one shred of evidence that national standards– not just CCSS but ANY national standards– work. Nothing. I get that from up on Mount DC, things would look neater and it would be a lot easier to run a national school district if everybody were on the same page. But that is about providing the best possible education for every student in America; it’s about providing a better management experience for government bureaucrats.

This is like having a doctor say, “Well, since your headaches are so bad, I guess we could take out your spleen.” And when you protest that you don’t want your spleen removed, the doctor says, “Well, what do you want me to take out instead. It’s just a hodgepodge of organs in there. Which one do you want removed.” And then he can tell you that this is his best guess, and in a decade or so we’ll see if it pays off.