Teachers face retaliation for criticizing Common Core

Karen Schroeder President, Advocates for Academic Freedom
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Teachers are supposed to leave professional judgment at home. A teacher who tries to adjust the lessons labeled Common Core is not supporting the mandate and is, therefore, insubordinate. Her kids typically won’t pass the federally-aligned tests, either. Common Core has taken “teaching to the test” to new heights.

Ethics and professional standards prevent educators from publicly criticizing any district-approved policy, which includes Common Core, since educators are evaluated based on their implementation of district policies. But a teacher’s true feelings can be found on NEA and AFT internet sites.

Without community support, educators are typically unwilling to become a lone voice against district policy. However, teachers hold their unions responsible for falsely representing them.

NEA Today published an article claiming that 75 percent of their members supported Common Core Standards. Insulted and betrayed by their union, more than 200 teachers immediately reported that they had not been surveyed and that they knew of no teachers in their schools who supported Common Core Standards. Others implied that the union knew that the majority of teachers hated Common Core and that the union refused to represent those teachers.

Punishment for the rebel educator is severe. Administrators label them troublemakers, place the most challenging students in their classes, and pull support from them. Dismissal for insubordination hangs over their heads. Barbara Madeloni was fired as director of the secondary-teacher education program at UMass when she spoke out against the Pearson teacher-performance assessment.

Common Core has driven many good teachers from the classroom. It is hard enough to attract excellent teachers, but these federally-shaped programs have been pushing teachers out of the profession for years.

Meg Norris wrote a touching letter to her students explaining that she loved and respected them so much that she had to leave the profession so she could fight Common Core. A woman of conscience, she couldn’t watch the frustration that the poorly-designed curriculum and forced teaching methods created for students. Norris could not watch children lose their love of learning because inappropriate standards had been created by a group of corporate entities who make money through data collection and production of resources now required in the corporate classroom.

Parents in New York explain that teachers are so scared for their jobs that they don’t dare sway from the curriculum. Teachers will not talk about Common Core or consider changes parents have suggested. Parents who wanted to talk about problems with the CC-aligned curriculum were told that kids had to know this “certain way for the state tests.”

When teachers in Seattle, Washington, refused to administer the math MAP tests which were Common Core-aligned, superintendent Jose Banda threatened them with suspension. Once parents and students joined the teachers in opting out of testing, Banda relented and MAP tests were not administered.

Students and fellow teachers see the troublemaker as an easy mark for bullying, victimization, and manipulation. Teaching becomes a nightmare.

State policies vary, but Wisconsin’s Teacher Evaluation Process Manual defines professionalism as: “The teacher consistently fulfilling district mandates regarding policies and procedures.”  The manual states that all standards for student evaluations must be aligned with district-approved standards. Teachers are now evaluated on student scores on tests that are aligned to federal standards. Those standards in most states are Common Core.

Evaluation is based on a teacher’s professional behavior, popularity, and support for district policy. When Common Core becomes district policy, teachers must implement Common Core.

Teachers object to scripted curriculum and required teaching methods which turn teachers into robots. Developmentally inappropriate materials and disregard for professional autonomy angers them — their professional judgment can no longer be applied on behalf of the student.

Parents and students who exercise local control of schools can make major changes, but they must be strong and reject threats and intimidation. They must focus on one issue: eliminate federally-aligned standards, curricula, and testing from our schools.

The Gates Foundation and the federal government have no right to turn our teachers, children, and parents into robotic, passive, non-thinking sheep. That is what Common Core is doing to our citizens and our educational system.

Federal and state legislators failed to prevent this overreach when they voted to support and fund Common Core Standards. These legislators also lost credibility. It’s time for parents to step up at the local level. If they do, they will discover that teachers will stand with the parents.