Last April, Tennessee decided to scrap Common Core and go back to their old standards. Earlier this year, the Colorado Board of Education endorsed the same move. In New York and several other states, formidable, informed opposition to Common Core is reaching a fever pitch.

So, what about California? The latest Common Core news is the PR campaign to prepare parents for lower test scores. The spin is awkward and ill-conceived and I predict it will not help the Common Core cause at all.

Does it matter? Yes. Throughout my career in senior management and as a business owner, I have consistently relied on the thoughts and opinions of the front line staff over those sitting behind a desk pushing paper and looking busy. In this case, the front line staff is our teachers. Having heard from enough of them locally, and having read numerous stories about teacher concerns across the country, it is time to give Common Core progress a thorough review.

The testing results are not a review; not a temperature check. That’s because, as I have written many times, kids are taking a Common Core test based on a Common Core curriculum. The only way to accurately measure the success or failure of Common Core is to test Common Core students with the old tests. Otherwise, nothing is measured.

Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible because California’s Dept. of Education put the kabosh on the old tests earlier this year. My guess is that they read the tea leaves and saw a flop in the offing.

It would be nice if the district polled teachers and got constructive feedback on whether to continue with Common Core. This will never happen for two reasons. First, despite their rhetoric, the administration and the board do not “love” our teachers and do not care for their opinions on matters such as this. (No one who “loves” anyone would treat them as shabbily as our teachers have been treated over the past three years.) Second, the district has created an environment of fear and retaliation that would not support any teacher from offering any negative feedback.

But if teachers were polled and the replies were overwhelmingly negative, wouldn’t it be grand for the N-MUSD to organize school districts in the state to lobby for the repeal of Common Core? Yes, it would. Trouble is, no one over at Bear St. would offer to get up from his or her chair to take up the challenge.

I have absolutely no idea what my generation did to enrich our democracy. We dropped the ball. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the public corruption of our democracy.      –Wynton Marsalis

So there you have it. Once again, kids lose.

Steve Smith

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