We (educators) have made lots of progress in education over the last few years, but know one really knows about the work we have done. Yes, much of it has been blood, sweat, and tears. We have many good teachers in our profession and they were not born with the talent of being good. They did it through tears, sweating, going the extra mile, reading, learning, praying, late evenings, Sunday afternoons. It did not just happen. We gave our life and soul for the kids we serve, but all we can say we have made progress. But who is really paying attention.
President Obama nor Mitt Romney. Neither one of these great men are talking about education.
People in our professional are not making the really big decisions about what matters in education! We keep talking about what really matters, but our voices only seem to get heard by the choir. The public talks about what they know about education and what they think matters, their voice is heard. Our politicians hear their voices.
We have done a better job in articulating What Really Matters! But we have to do it better so that our parents, our community leaders, the business leaders, and our politicians hear us. We have to engage them in that conversation! We have to find a way to listent to them and them listen to us!
I can go further and make a list of the many things that matters in education, but I want to focus on one BIG thing that has the potential to change our culture of learning, our culture of public education!
Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
CCSS goes to the heart of preparing my sons and daughters to be College and Career Ready (CCR)! The standards tells us what they must be able to do in order to be CCR. We need our students to be
- able to work together in teams,
- be independent learners,
- build strong content knowledge,
- respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline,
- comprehend ideas as well as critique them,
- to value evidence, use technology and digital media strategically and capably, and
- and come to understand other perspectives and cultures.
And this REALLY MATTERS!
From Kindergarten through the 12th grade the CCSS calls for students to have these experiences in our classrooms each year starting in K. And this REALLY MATTERS!
The anchor standards describe a portrait of students who are able to read, speak, write, listen, and use language well to do these task. “They are able to exhibit with increasing fullness and regularity these capacities of the literate individual.”(from the ELA CCSS) And this REALLY MATTERS!
“Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational text that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. In short, students who meet the Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.” (from the ELA CCSS) And this REALLY MATTERS!
I want this for my own two children! Students need to see that learning involves struggling and not always coming up with the correct answer. Many times there is no correct answer. CCSS calls for every student attending our schools to be taught like this! And this REALLY MATTERS!
This is the opportunity for us to change the culture of learning in this nation! But here is my fear! Smarter Balanced and PARCC Assessments. Once as a school system we understand the assessment, will we revert back to what happened the last ten years in education with testing and data collection? Will the test change the intention of the writers of the CCSS? What will the public say? How will the politicians react! Folks this REALLY MATTERS!
We have to start now finding ways to have this conversation about What Really Matters with our communities! We need to find as many ways we can ask it and start forums! This may be our last effort to reform public education as we know it! As we all know there is a force- a political force- working agains what we believe to be true the need for public education in this country!
And this REALLY MATTERS! We MUST be more COMPELLING!