Parents know that they do not have to vaccinate their children in order to have them attend public schools. They know that bullying is not allowed and that there are defined steps that will be taken in the event a child is the victim of bullying. They know that they can take their kids out of the district’s sex education program if they want.

What parents in the N-MUSD do not seem to know is that they do not have to have their kids take the so-called “Smarter Balanced” testing that will measure their success in the new Common Core curriculum.

Common Core is not the issue here. If Common Core works better than the old way, great – I will be leading the charge to celebrate.

There are two other issues here, one of which is systemic.

The first issue is that under the existing testing program, it is impossible to determine whether Common Core is a better way of teaching than the old way. The only way to determine that is to test Common Core kids against the old testing model. But districts can’t do that because not only did the Common Core people create a new set of tests, Sacramento suspended the old testing system.

So what we have is a new curriculum being tested with a new test, which measures nothing. All nicely and neatly choreographed to prevent any criticism of Common Core.

This is not rocket surgery.

The second issue is more important and addresses a common theme in this space, which is the extremely poor level of substantive communication coming from the current school administration. Oh, yes, we hear all about ribbon cuttings and awards and surveys, but there is absolutely nothing – zero – about anything challenging.

Consider:

There is nothing on the district’s website about their cyber security policy to prevent more grade hacking.

There is no explanation as to how the new people in the administration are going to boost academic performance. All we have been given at this time is fluff – a lot of generalities about “alignment” and “streamlining.” Taxpayers don’t care about alignment and streamlining. Taxpayers want to know why a district that is operating in the red is adding management instead of cutting it.

And there is no information telling parents that their kids don’t have to take the Common Core assessments.

The spin is that very few kids are opting out of the tests and that means that parents like the concept. Well, there is at least one taxpayer in the district who isn’t buying it and he wants to make sure that they know.

Steve Smith

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