Dressing up the Common Core

I’ve always understood the adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  I get it.  Dress nicely and people will notice.  Yet, I find that I have had the fortune of consistently having the job I wanted.  From my humble beginnings as a teenager delivering newspapers via an old bike and a milk crate to working as a teacher leader (and teacherpreneur!) helping students and collaborating with educators, I have been blessed with finding jobs that I thoroughly enjoy.

One summer in early 1980-something, I was hired as a swim instructor for a summer day-camp.  Truly all I wanted was a job where I could be outside and being poolside was a bonus.  I worked with children between the ages of 5 and 7 teaching floating techniques and how to swim.  What I found, almost immediately, was this tremendous feeling of accomplishment, pride, excitement and overall giddiness when I saw the kids being successful!  That summer I knew that I would be a teacher; I wanted to continue to reap those intrinsic rewards working with young people.  So, I never had the feeling of looking for my “next” job; I felt that I discovered my gift and purpose of being an educator.  And, happily, twenty years into my career, there is still nothing like the satisfaction of teaching students lessons and see them apply and use what they learn!

Sure, there is a part of me that always wanted to play baseball for my NY Mets.  Yet, if I dress for the job I may want and wear a baseball uniform to school, it may be somewhat distracting to the young people trying to become better readers and writers in my classroom.

Interestingly, as professionals are advised to dress for the job they may want, the state of Florida is beginning to dress the Common Core State Standards a bit differently as well.  It seems that some states, including Florida, are making changes to these standards or are adding a few additional ones to potentially calm those that oppose national education standards.  I suspect that these states will “dress up” these standards with a new, state-owned, title for them as well.  The logic of finding common ground with opponents of these new standards is sound, but will these changes potentially distract from the work of improving the ELA/Math learning gains of our students? So I ask: Are states dressing the Common Core State Standards for the betterment of learning for all or are they simply trying to appease an outspoken voice against national standards?

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  • JasonParker

    Is the emperor wearing clothes?
    Rob,

    Think you’ve raised an excellent question. I’m wondering if you’d suggest that “the emperor is wearing new clothes”?

    • Rob Kriete

      Jason-

      Jason-

      Great point.  And, quite possibly another title for this blog post.

  • BillIvey

    I refuse to let myself… hey, squirrel!!!

    (sorry; I wrote this comment this morning and could have sworn I hit “save” before leaving for school)

    Great question. I have a Twitter-friend who lives in Florida who is a Tea Partier, and I also follow Rita Solnet, who lives in Florida and is a nationally-known progressive advocate for parents. When both of them have positive reactions to the news from Florida, I have to at least suspect there’s some genuinely good news there

    However. One of these two people is primarily resistant to government interference. The other is looking at a broader array of issues – including high-stakes testing. If the changes in Florida end up impeding the high-stakes testing momentum associated with CCSS, then I think we’ve got something worth celebrating. But it it’s just a ploy to quiet the conservative wing of the opposition, given that many CCSS supporters at the political level have been systematically ignoring and/or mischaracterizing the progressive wing of the opposition for years, then I would see little to celebrate.

    One caveat – I completely understand many teachers see CCSS as promoting deeper thought in their schools and within their disciplines, and of course that delights me. My own state (MA) is one of the few where CCSS standards are seen as *more* relaxed than what we used to have; overall, though, I do see potential for CCSS to bring about positive change.

    But if we have to buy this positive pig in a poke of associated high-stakes tests, as appears to be the case in many (all?) states, that’s where I start to resist. And distractions like changing a few of the standards around or renaming them or even just plain improving them aren’t going to squirrel me on that point.

  • Rob Kriete

    Bill-

    Bill-

    Great points.  I would love for the potential tweaks being proposed to the CCSS in Florida to bring about substantial change to standardized testing machinations.  But, alas, I think it is more of a ploy to which you reference.

    You made an  interesting point about how these CCSS standards are seen as somewhat more relaxed than what your state previously had.  I believe, in Florida, depending on the subject, course and level, some might even feel the same here.  You have offered me an interesting question to pose to my fellow Florida educators!