An educational Tsunami took place yesterday when Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association (NEA), published an online letter to his union’s three million members slamming the current direction of the Common Core State Standards.
Van Roekel is reacting to overwhelming pushback from his own rank and file union members about the increasingly more obvious problems with the Common Core. And, some of his comments make it clear that not just implementation, but the standards themselves need more work, and that work needs to be done in a more open format that includes teachers and parents.
Furthermore, given that the union has received millions of dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the standards, Van Roekel’s new letter is indeed a titanic development in the on-going discussions about Common Core State Standards.
Van Roekel’s letter is full of sharp comments. Among other things, the letter says:
“Seven of ten teachers believe that implementation of the standards is going poorly in their schools. Worse yet, teachers report that there has been little to no attempt to allow educators to share what’s needed to get CCSS implementation right. In fact, two thirds of all teachers report that they have not even been asked how to implement these new standards in their classrooms.”
While not calling for the scuttling of the Common Core, Van Roekel says teachers:
“…have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make CCSS implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.”
He also says:
“Governors and chief state school officers should set up a process to work with NEA and our state education associations to review the appropriateness of the standards and recommend any improvements that might be needed.”
Basically, what the union chief is saying is the feedback process needed to improve the standards simply isn’t there – one of the very complaints we have raised at the Bluegrass Institute since early spring of last year.
Van Roekel also calls for more time to get the standards right, including field testing of all educational elements, tests included. That could certainly include Kentucky’s new KPREP tests, which are only a couple of years old but already show some signs of inflation.
The shift in NEA viewpoint is so dramatic that Politico immediately published an article titled, “Nation’s biggest teachers union slams ‘botched’ Common Core implementation.”
Politico reports the union is saying the standards:
“…will not succeed without a major “course correction” — including possibly rewriting some of the standards and revising the related tests with teacher input.”
Thus, the union now admits there are inadequacies in the current standards, another point the Bluegrass Institute has been making for many months.
Politico also writes:
“Van Roekel made clear that disillusionment (among teachers) was both widespread and mainstream.”
To be fair, Van Roekel does say that some states, which he did not identify, are doing a better job of implementing Common Core. However, his general comments about the standards themselves needing more work apply universally, and that would include us here in Kentucky, too.
And, the lack of a feedback mechanism to improve the standards is a universal problem, as well.