The following letter is in response to former senator Rachel Zenzinger’s June 5 letter to the editor: “Reader’s view: Sen. Laura Woods flunks Common Core 101.” She was writing about Tessa Cheek’s May 27 article: “Democrats’ ‘liberty-minded’ foe Sen. Laura Woods talks bills, kills and conundrums.”
To the editor:
Recently, The Colorado Independent published a piece on Common Core written by former senator Rachel Zenzinger. As parents, we felt it important to set the record straight on Common Core.
Have you ever looked at the full title of Common Core? It’s a mouthful: Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Keep in mind that the English-language-arts standards of Common Core were written not by a teacher but by a businessman named David Coleman.
We also have something called the advanced Placement U.S. history course, known as APUSH, which was recently rewritten by the College Board, whose new president is the one-and-the-same businessman and Common Core architect, Coleman. Interesting coincidence that although APUSH is technically different than Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects, they were both re-written/overseen by the same person.
This week, 55 scholars came out with a letter protesting the changes to AP U.S. History. These 55 scholars want an accurate and full account of American history, “warts and all” – something they say is missing in the new AP U.S. history course.
Coleman, as president of the College Board, is also responsible for aligning the SAT college-entrance exam to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.
It seems like Common Core is affecting almost every area of education. Remembering that the full title of CCSS includes history and social studies in its approach to literacy, take a look at the Common Core suggested reading list which offers “exemplars and performance tasks.”
While these texts are not “required” (because that would be considered mandating curriculum), they are suggested because they are Common Core aligned. Schools and teachers had to find curriculum that aligned with Common Core standards. These suggested reading lists, per grade level and topic, seem very handy and the suggested books are in many Colorado classrooms.
Several have criticized Common Core’s approach to teaching history. This Washington Post article entitled Common Core’s odd approach to teaching Gettysburg Address says, “Imagine learning about the Gettysburg Address without a mention of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, or why President Abraham Lincoln had traveled to Pennsylvania.” It’s an interesting read and also mentions many of the history books suggested on the Common Core reading list.
We have heard so many times that Common Core standards are not curriculum, yet the curriculum and assessments certainly are changing in order to align with the standards. In fact, Laura Slover, CEO of PARCC, (PARCC is the state mandated assessment aligned with Common Core) acknowledges the goal of PARCC is to drive curriculum here. And Bill Gates says it here. And Coleman says it here.
Closer to home, a 2014 WestEd Study, commissioned by our Colorado Department of Education, found that PARCC drives curriculum. Teachers and students surveyed during this study said they needed curriculum to match what was on the PARCC test; otherwise, how could they possibly do well on a test if they had never seen the content?
Also, as recently as last month, a special panel on PARCC was assembled by our State Board of Education. You can read the partial transcript and hear the panel here. Listen as one of the panel experts says, “To really be able to argue that the PARCC test really covers the breadth and depth, fully, of the Common Core State Standards, such that if the, if teachers are really teaching to PARCC, they’re teaching to the full range of the Common Core…”
Be sure to listen to the full audio of this May 5 special session on PARCC, as you will hear Zenzinger speaking about PARCC and the importance of “teaching to the standards.” Listen here. Zenzinger begins at the 2 hour 19 minute mark.
Zenzinger also voted to kill a bill in 2014 that only asked for a cost analysis and a 1-year pause to slow down on PARCC and Common Core implementation.
Currently a project manager for the pro-Common-Core-Gates-Bloomberg-funded America Achieves, Zenzinger certainly supports PARCC, Common Core and this group’s mission.
As parents, we would like to thank all legislators who supported bills to reduce standardized testing and protected children’s privacy from student data mining. We are grateful to legislators who listen to their constiutents and do what’s best for children, not profit-driven-education reforms.
After all, these are our children. They grow and learn at different rates. Each and every child has his or her unique talent that cannot be measured by a standardized assessment. It is not Pearson’s or PARCC’s or the government’s role to decide when or if our children go to college.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Albert, Creative Commons, Flickr.