I found Mr. Duncan’s speech to be very informative. I did feel that he meant what he said when he wants to help the profession to be on par with Doctors and Lawyers, both monetarily and respect. But I was mostly curious about the new standards that are being promoted in all the states, except Minnesota, Texas, Nebraska, Alaska, and Virginia. These standards are known as the Common Core Standards. According to their website, http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions, these standards have been evaluated, designed, and agreed upon by teachers, parents, administrators, and other experts in the field of education. These are standards that are supposed to help children learn the required skills and knowledge to become successful in college and in the work place that are basically universal from state to state. The Common Core Standards are designed to give teachers a goal of what needs to be taught, but allows the teachers to design the curriculum that will get the children to where they need to be.
What I am curious about is, do these standards really account for the cultural differences among students, teachers, and schools throughout the state, and does it account for the students that have learning disabilities and special needs? I tried to find this on the Common Core Standards official website, but the answer to the question seemed somewhat vague.
“Q: What does this work mean for students with disabilities and English language learners?
“A: Common standards will provide a greater opportunity for states to share experiences and best practices within and across states that can lead to an improved ability to best serve young people with disabilities and English language learners. Additionally, the K-12 English language arts and mathematics standards include information on application of the standards for English language learners and students with disabilities.”
It could be that this standard is new and that there will be issues, or shortcomings; so they won’t have exact answers for everything. But I wonder if testing will really help teachers teach the children the skills and knowledge that is needed, or if it is the talent of the teacher alone that reaches the underperforming teachers. When, Mr. Duncan spoke of different teachers, who went the extra mile for their students, he didn’t mention anything about standards that they teachers were trying to maintain or reach. He spoke of them as “educational Robin Hoods,” who took the knowledge of the rich and gave it to their “poor” students. Much like the example of Jaime Irish who, “challenged them [students] to outperform the selective enrollment school down the road.” This seems to be the driving force of leaving “no child left behind.” If the passionate teacher ensures that no child is being left behind in their education, then that child won’t be left behind. And a standardize test really won’t be able to test how hard the teacher is really working.
As we read Mike Rose, I can’t help but think that he did not focus on common standards across the board. As he help the underperforming fourth graders, he sought out the underlying problem, sort of diagnostic, to determine the individual need of the children to help them. He also conducted the Veteran’s class the same way. He wasn’t teaching to these common standards. He wasn’t concerned with standards, he was concerned with how they learned, what they learned, and how he would get them to where the student wants to be in their education. He was passionate and sympathetic to these “underperforming” learners, and because of his passion, they were not being left behind. Perhaps our education system is to worried about what standard our children are learning at? Maybe we should be more concerned with finding more passionate teachers–helping them–help the students achieve greatness?