Brain Surgery and the Common Core

What if the manual with step-by-step procedures for performing brain surgery that is mandated medical practice in all hospitals in the United States was not written by any brain surgeons? Instead,  all of the individuals writing the manual were employees of companies who made post-surgical supplies.

What if the manual was written in secret with no records of the meetings, and no doctor was allowed to know who was at the meetings and who wrote the manual?

What if there was no field-testing of the procedures to see if following them accomplished successful brain surgery?

What if the people who wrote the step-by-step procedures were people who would profit from their post-surgical materials being used?

What if those people knew nothing about brain surgery but only about how their post-surgical products were used?

What if the leader of the manual-writing group was not only not a brain surgeon but also was someone who had his own heartfelt feelings about how he thought brain surgery should go and was able to impose his own heartfelt, but uninformed, feelings on others so that the procedures for brain surgery were based just on his feelings?

What if regardless of how the surgeries turned out or how much the brain surgeons said the procedures were ineffective, there was no way that the step-by-step procedures could be changed, no way to revise or modify the procedures?

Wouldn’t you object?

I would.

For the same reasons, I object to the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. They came to be in exactly the same way.

Not one elementary school reading or language arts teacher was involved in writing the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. . Not one middle or high school English teacher was involved. Not one college professor of literature, composition, or rhetoric was involved. The people who wrote the standards were employees of standardized testing companies.

The meetings were held in secret with no minutes kept. For a long time, they would not release the names of those who were writing the standards, but eventually pressure from journalists caused the release of the names.

There has been absolutely no field testing of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts. There was no study conducted to see if meeting the standards in grades k-12 led to good grades in college and future employment. It is anybody’s guess if doing well and meeting the 42 K-12 Common Core English Language Arts Standards will make for success in college or lead to a job.

Since the writers of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards were standardized test makers, the standards consist only of what can be measured by standardized tests. That is a very limited definition of learning and falls way short of the competencies students need for their future.

And, needless to say, testing companies are the big winners in this misbegotten approach to education. They are making huge profits from the manufacture of the national standardized tests and from the publishing of test prep materials that schools are compelled to buy.

The person called the “chief architect” of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards is David Coleman who has zero teaching experience, however, has very strong feelings about how reading and writing should be taught. He successfully imposed those feelings on the group of writers.

David Coleman likes non-fiction better than literature so the amount of literature to be read in K-12 schools throughout the country is restricted. David Coleman likes an approach to teaching literature that was popular in the 1940’s and then discredited so that is the approach mandated by  the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. The approach called New Criticism has been discredited because it does not allow discussion of the historical or cultural context in which a text was written and prohibits individual reader interpretations of a text. David Coleman is famous for saying that students have to learn that “no one gives a **** what they think and feel” so all Common Core essays must be formal arguments devoid of personal connections and written in an anonymous, impersonal voice. Major research in the field of English since the 1970’s contradicts all of David Coleman’s heartfelt feelings, but those heartfelt feelings govern the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.

Finally, the group who wrote the Common Core English Language Arts Standards has disbanded. There is no agency or person who has authority over the content of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards. There is no way to revise them. There is no way to see how they work with students and then make changes. The Common Core English Language Arts Standards are engraved in stone.

Let’s leave the brain surgery to the brain surgeons and the teaching of English language arts to the educators.

Reject the Common Core. Those standards will not teach students to be thoughtful readers, effective writers, or critical and deep thinkers.

The writers of the Common Core for English Language Arts simply didn’t know any better.

We educators, we teachers of English language arts, can definitely do better.

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