Peter Rawitsch has been teaching early childhood education for 35 years. He was selected by the state of New York to participate on a committee reviewing the state standards. His post was published by the Albany Times Union and reposted on Susan Ochshorn’s blog. I think you will enjoy reading his commentary, and I am reposting it here.

Peter described how the group for Pre-K-grade 12 met and were briefed. Then they broke into sections.

The Common Core State Standards were adopted by the New York State Regents in 2011. Its original group of authors did not include any early childhood experts. If it had, it would have started with kindergarten and progressed forward, instead of starting with 12th grade and mapping backward. It would have acknowledged that children learn and develop at different rates, which is much better reflected by a learning continuum and not inflexible of end-of-year benchmarks. The continuum would have included the physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive areas of child development. It would have stressed the critical role of play-based learning for young children.

As the week went on, we were able to tackle these larger issues, but we didn’t reach a consensus. A concern for some members of our group was how teachers would know what to teach without standards. My response is that we observe, listen and get to know our students so we can determine what they know, what they are ready to learn and how we can best support their learning.

Our work is not done. When our draft is finished in August, the state education department will review the whole P-12 document to ensure there is consistency in the language and a progression of skills. Then there will be a public comment period, followed by still more editing and revisions. Finally, it will be presented to the Regents for their review.

It will be interesting to see how our original work evolves through this process. Ideally, the state would put a moratorium on the current Common Core ELA and math standards until the standards can address all of the developmental areas. The unintended consequences of rolling out only the ELA and math standards have been: a narrowing of the curriculum, almost to the exclusion of science and social studies; devaluing of play, the primary mode of learning at the P-2 level; and over-testing. These have all been harmful to young learners.

New York parents and teachers will have an opportunity to be heard. Let’s let the Education Department know that childhood cannot be standardized.