Education has been responsible for some of the most controversial topics in our nation’s recent history. Whether it is a discussion of evolution vs. creationism, sex education, or charter schools, there is no shortage of opinions on a few key education subjects, even by people who don’t have kids in public schools.
That is perplexing because other than chiming in on a few big issues, most Americans, including many folks right here in Newport-Mesa, don’t pay much attention to what is happening in our classrooms or at the school district.
Unless the school board is handing out awards – a common practice – there aren’t a lot of people in attendance at the twice-monthly meetings. And among those who do attend, several of them are the usual employees, consultants, service providers, and others feeding at the education trough.
And if you read the Daily Pilot online, you’ll have to scroll past every newspaper category – Business & Real Estate, Politics, Sports, Life & Arts, County News, Portfolio, Forum, and Public Safety – before you get to Education, which is dead last.
One of the challenges as a self-described education activist is that my audience is constantly turning over. Once kids leave high school, parent interest in education matters declines sharply. Add to that mix the folks who have no kids – singles included – and you have a huge chunk of the 200,000-plus people in the area who just don’t care about what’s going on in our schools.
That’s good news for the school board every two years because the disinterest and turnover creates people who are unaware of the management fiascos and fiscal mismanagement of those in charge, which helps an incumbent boost his or her chances for re-election.
But along came Common Core, which has not only brought together strange bedfellows, it has awaken many previously unconcerned taxpayers to the realization that every public bureaucracy must be watched constantly or else it will consistently make decisions that are not in the best interests of the general population.
On Friday, March, 27, I drove to Bellflower to hear an anti-Common Core presentation by a fellow named Dr. Duke Pesta. You can read about Pesta’s background and some history on his fight against Common Core by clicking here. But more important, take the time to watch Pesta in action last Friday night. Even if you disagree 100% with Pesta’s arguments, there are still valuable lessons to be learned from watching the video, even if it is to see what a very good speaker looks and sounds like. I have spoken hundreds of times across the country and believe I’m good at it, but Pesta makes me look like an amateur. The link to Pesta’s presentation is here.
There is no opinion here on the merits of Common Core – this is one time you should put in the time to develop your own perspective based on facts and nothing but the facts.
I will say this: My biggest beef with Common Core is the state Dept. of Education’s recent decision to eliminate the old testing program and use the new Smarter Balanced tests (aka Common Core tests) to measure achievement. But unless students are tested against the old benchmarks, no measurable achievement data will be revealed. I believe that is exactly what the Dept. of Ed. intended.
That is my biggest beef. My strongest desire is that should Common Core prove to be less effective than the current education program, our school board will take action and urge the Dept. of Ed. to abandon the Common Core program. If you watch the video, though, you will see why, according to Pesta, that action, however righteous or justified it may be, will never occur.
That, readers, may be a tipping point in education in our state – the time when taxpayers finally put education ahead of “Life & Arts.”