As what I like to call “Common Core Wars” continues to play out across the United States, here in New York State and City things remain volatile. New York City parents have every right to be alarmed about state assessments that were linked to the Common Core State Standards, ones that were supposed to bring uniformity and stability to education across the country. The results of those tests in this first year were abysmal – only 30% of city students passed the math exam and 26% passed the ELA (reading and writing).
Parents still want answers, as do teachers whose evaluations were tied to the success of their students on the assessments. This came courtesy of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he of the big soda bans, stop and frisk, and red light cameras. If Bloomberg somehow managed another term in office, I am sure he would have found a way to install bathroom cams in every residence to make sure we are brushing our teeth, but I digress. Parents and teachers are still not getting answers as to how the city could poorly prepare teachers in the CCSS and then expect them to “prep” students in exams linked to those standards.
Now we get an incredulous story in The New York Daily News about one Merryl Tisch, who happens to be New York State Schools Chancellor. She has the bravado to compare herself to New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth during an educational meeting in New York City. She said that just as Babe Ruth called a home run and pointed to where he would hit it (the story was that the Babe promised a sick kid in the hospital that he would do this for him) that she was predicting a similar feat – next year “test scores are going to go up.”
Chances of Ms. Tisch being right about this remain doubtful. She sounds more like New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan promising a Super Bowl victory than the Yankees icon promising a home run (which he indeed hit), and we all know how well Rex’s prediction played out.
No, Ms. Tisch joins Bloomberg and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in the continuing debacle of testing, CCSS, teacher evaluations, and poor educational policy. I would say this triumvirate is something like the three wise monkeys, unwilling or unable to come to terms with a salient fact – their plan to link CCSS with assessments failed miserably. The public knows it; parents, students, and teachers know it. They are the only ones who still think they are on the right course for success.
There is nothing wrong with the CCSS in theory (getting students to think critically and be prepared for college is a good thing), but the problem with theory is that there are always issues when put into practice. Whether or not Bloomberg and the others thought that this would be successful or not is not important now, but it is time for them to face facts to ensure that the 2013-2014 school year will be a different experience. If things stay as they are and we get more of the same – ill-prepared teachers and test prepped to death students – chance are likely that Ms. Tisch will be striking out instead of hitting that home run.
As more states take on the CCSS and consider linking them to assessments, it would be wise to look at what has happened here in New York. The debacle here does not have to happen where you are, and it will be crucial especially in New York City for education officials to start thinking how they can right the travesty of the 2013 exams. Hopefully, with a new mayor coming in at the end of the year, at least one of the “wise” monkeys will open its eyes and change will happen. We owe it to our parents and teachers, but most of all we must make a change for the better for those who matter most – our students.
Photo credits: tisch-daily news; babe ruth-brentjackson52.com; monkeys-presspartners.org