Teacher Is Madder Than Hell And Ain't Gonna Test Kids Anymore

Our education columnist wants to foment a rebellion against the federally mandated Common Core State Standards which, he says, will cost $1 billion to implement.


(Jerry Heverly is an English teacher at San Leandro High School. He has written before about how the Common Core State Standards, a new federal mandate, will affect students and teachers.)

I’m starting a new organization at San Leandro High School

It’s called the Common Core Resistance Army.

It would be sort of like those 60’s radical groups that were run by ex-con’s.

I’ll need a pretty young woman to be my deputy, of course. We’ll preach mass resistance to standardized tests.

We’d hold our meetings in a phone booth—if there were such things as phone booths anymore.

What I mean to say is, there is absolutely no appetite in our district for resistance to the coming new thing:  Common Core State (sic) Standards. (My friend Susan Ohanian in Vermont insists we put that (sic) there to make sure everyone knows that the states had nothing to do with originating these foolish tests.)

I haven’t done a formal poll of San Leandro teachers or administrators (or parents) but my sense is that we are going to do everything that the feds tell us to do without protest. Questioning the validity of these changes isn’t even on anyone’s radar.

For a moment I thought I detected the beginnings of a genuine national resistance movement.

A group of teachers in Seattle at Garfield High School recently refused to administer the “Measures of Academic Progress” (MAP) tests to their students. It’s a state exam much like our STAR tests that kids take in April.

“Finally”, I thought to myself, “somebody is going to stop the madness.”

The rebellion quickly spread to a few other Seattle high schools with minor reverberations as far as Chicago and Texas.

But this week the Seattle school district ordered vice principals to administer the tests and they began threatening punishments to the obstructive teachers. It looks MAP will go on as usual. Sigh.

The one hopeful sign was that several hundred Seattle parents signed “opt out” letters to the district exempting their children from the test.

Does California have an opt-out law?

One website I found says we do (http://www.pencilsdown.org/california.html ) but I haven’t found any official confirmation.

In researching this column I learned a few things about the Common Core that I didn’t know before:

  • It costs approximately $13/student to administer the STAR tests we have now; it will cost around $20/student to administer the CCSS.
  • The state superintendent of schools, Tom Torlakson, estimates it will cost California $1 billion to carry out the federal mandates connected to CCSS.
  • By 2018 San Leandro High School will need to invest heavily in computers and computer memory to allow us to give “computer adaptive” tests. In these kinds of tests each student gets different questions based upon whether they got the previous question right.

What will you, the taxpayer, get for all this cash?

Right now we do nothing but multiple-choice tests.

In two years we will still have lots of multiple choice questions but here is how one site described the new questions:

“The heart of the tests in both English language arts and math will be short-answer questions and lengthy performance tasks. The latter questions, involving multiple steps, taking perhaps an hour or two, are designed to see if students can demonstrate a deeper understanding of the standards, can explain the reasons behind their answers and can think critically.”

Can you imagine how much it will cost to pay someone to grade those latter questions?

Common Core boosters claim that their tests will fundamentally alter teaching. They say that we teachers will be forced to teach “critical thinking”.  Common Core will get us to teach  “higher order comprehension”. 

I keep asking myself how this is different from what I do now.

The Common Core State (sic) Standards are a fraud.

The Common Core State (sic) Standards are a clever way to fleece the taxpayers, to dress up old ideas in new clothing

For this they will charge you, the taxpayers, $1 billion.

You would think there would be at least a few teachers, administrators, parents or just plain taxpayers, who would exhibit outrage at these new national tests.

But, as far as I can tell, there aren’t. 

(You can read more essays like this in the archives of Entirely Secondary.)

David February 08, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Eliminate tenure and job protections for incompetent teachers, and you can eliminate testing. Otherwise, we don't trust you with our kids. Period.
Barry Garelick February 08, 2013 at 06:42 PM
The problem is also that Common Core will have uneven implementation despite the supposed uniformity of goals/standards. PD vendors sell a message that math standards are best taught with collaborative learning, and problem-based approaches which means teachers are "guides on the sides". Students will have to "explain" why they got an answer; showing the work will not be good enough. See http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/why-the-new-common-core-math-standards-dont-add-up/265444/.
George Spiegel February 08, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Sorry David..... Try paying teachers more... or better yet..... install time clocks at every school and see just how much a teacher works... even in the summer.... You have no idea pal!
David February 09, 2013 at 03:16 AM
California teachers are paid, on average, the most in the country. Never mind benefits. If they work so hard, they should have no problems with giving up tenure etc.
Gretchen Logue February 10, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Jerry, you are not alone! I posted your article here: http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2013/02/teacher-is-madder-than-hell-about.html We have a Senate bill that is anti-CCSS and a House bill will soon be forthcoming. You also might want to check out www.truthinamericaneducation.com. It's a national effort by taxpayers, parents and educators to educate legislators and the public about how truly awful CCSS is.
Jessica Gardner February 14, 2013 at 02:35 AM
"A pretty young thing". Really Jerry?!?!? Not someone based on qualifications? Oh right because your teaching has nothing to do with qualifications. Retire already
David February 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Shawn, it takes 1 second or less on Google http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/california-11367-teachers-public.html for example. And Shawn, you're giving credence that there are plenty of teachers who should be let go already in the public schools.
David February 20, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Shawn, do you have any proof to the contrary? Why don't you email the OC Register and ask them for the source of their facts. Oh wait, it's the Teachers' Unions themselves: "According to the CTA's parent union, the National Education Association, California teachers were the nation's top-paid, with $64,424 average annual salary in 2007-08. Don't take just the NEA's word for it. The other mammoth national public school teacher union, the American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO, said the year before the CTA study that "for the second consecutive year, California had the highest average teacher salary in 2006-07 at $63,640, or about 25 percent above the national average." I like how you call yourself enlightened etc, after all your name-calling, thanks for the laugh this morning.


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