Friday, May 09, 2014

Louis C.K. and Common Core

The blowback from the comedian Louis C.K. and his tweets about Common Core are useful in pointing out some fundamental issues with Common Core.

These are issues that ALL public school parents have a right to weigh in on both as taxpayers AND as parents investing their children into public education.  And that, to me, means parents have more rights to talk about Common Core than say, Bill Gates. 

Beware of anyone who says that parents cannot and shouldn't air concerns about what is happening at their children's schools.  I don't care if it's Arne Duncan or anyone else; don't let anyone challenge your right to ask questions. 

Louis C.K. is a divorced NYC parent of two daughters.  He is very involved with their lives including school.  They attend public schools in NYC. 

On April 28th, he tweeted this and thus begin a national discussion (note: misspelling are his):

My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!

He then posted a question from one night's homework.  

Louis went on a Twitter spree for a couple of days between April 28th and May 1 but here's my favorite:

Everything important is worth doing carefully. None of this feels careful to me.


He also went on Letterman and was pretty damn funny in his excess:

The way I understand it, if a school's kids don't test well, they burn the school down.  So it's pretty high pressure.
The way I understand it, if a school’s kids don’t test well, they burn the school down. So it’s pretty high pressure.”

Keep in mind; Twitter gives you 140 characters but no matter because Louis, a public school parent who has a right to state his own opinion based on years of doing homework with his kids, got roundly chided from CC supporters.

Most of the criticism was along this line of reasoning:

Why comment on something you don't have expertise with, knowing how influential you are?

His biggest smackdown came from Alexander Nazaryan at Newsweek.  First, he confuses Louis C.K. with Louie, his tv character.  Whoops.  Then, he's mad because Louis is famous. 

But what’s dismaying about Louis C.K.’s anti-Common Core rant is that he is neither a shill for the unions nor a far-left conspiracy theorist who thinks that Education Secretary Arne Duncan (and perhaps the president himself!) is in the pocket of Pearson and the Princeton Review. He is, instead, a New York City public school parent who has the ears and eyeballs of millions across the nation, not to mention his 3 million Twitter followers. And he has used that bully pulpit to malign an earnest effort at education reform, one that is far too young to be judged so harshly.

OH, I get it.  He's used his bully pulpit of fame.  So if you are famous, you can't ever comment on anything that directly affects your live (and your children's lives)?  When did that law get enacted?  

He praises Common Core saying that a teacher in Alabama and a teacher in Alaska will be able to "teach more or less the same thing."  If the standards are NOT curriculum, then I don't understand his reasoning.  

Then, he explains why we are failing our public schools without Common Core:

“Staging scenes from Of Mice and Men isn’t going to catch us up to China anytime soon," writes Alexander Nazaryan. "Nor are art projects or iPads. It was dismaying to hear the new New York City schools chancellor, Carmen FariƱa, recently complain that our students are deprived of “joy” in the classroom. Joy, our twerking young ones know. Trigonometry, not so much.

No art for you?  No joy of learning for you?  Time's a'wastin', kids.  Nice, huh?

Then Nazaryan goes for the guilt trip/bad teacher twofer:

The saddest thing about all this is that C.K.’s children will be fine, as will mine and, probably, yours. It is kids in the South Bronx or the South Side who would benefit from a little more rigor in the classroom and a little more accountability from their teachers, some of whom think it is enough to merely show up and baby-sit disadvantaged kids.

One good idea from Common Core Watch:

We need to take responsibility for CCSS implementation and what is actually happening in the classroom. We need to call out misguided curricula and poorly conceived assessment and accountability decisions. 

Also from Esquire:

 If the system is making most children cry, that’s not the fault of the student. It’s not the fault of the teacher, either. It’s the fault of a system that tries to accommodate everyone, but winds up helping no one.

Is catching up to China now the American ideal? Or is the American ideal making sure our kids — and the adults they will become — are healthy, happy, and want to learn?

Common Core standards have just added more anxiety-riddled, make-or-break tests at even younger ages, when kids should be at their freest and happiest.
In turn, this has led us to confuse late-blooming or generally rambunctious kids with children who need medical intervention. We’ve doled out ADHD drugs to teenage boys 37 percent more frequently than we did a decade ago.

The way I understand it, if a school’s kids don’t test well, they burn the school down. So it’s pretty high pressure.”
“The way I understand it, if a school’s kids don’t test well, they burn the school down. So it’s pretty high pressure.”
Diane Ravitch also wrote about this and here's what he tweeted about her:

this caring, thoughtful and qalified person wrote this about CCSS listen to her. Not me.

She answers Newsweek:

I assume you have not read the study by Tom Loveless of Brookings, who pointed out that the Common Core standards were likely to make little or no difference in achievement.

 More tweets (if you are interested in all that Louis said):

Sorry. I sit with my kids as they so their HW they devour knowledge. When it's hard they step up. Their teachers are great.

But it's changed in recent years. It's all about these tests. It feels like a dark time. And nothing is going in anymore.

It's this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions.

hese questions btw were not written by her teacher. they were on a standardized test. written by pearson or whoever the hell

Okay I'm done. This is just one dumb, fat parent's POV. I'm pissed because I love NYC public schools. mice, lice and all.

my favorite responses have been adults proudly announcing that they were able to solve these problems from a 3rd grade test.

Kids teachers parents are vocally suffering. Doesnt that matter? listen to them. Adapt and slow down CCSS. Cool it with the testing

CCSS. It's a new program. why defend it aS perfect? Why let poor test writers profit and tell parents and teachers they are "wrong".

1st step to learn: Amit you're wrong. Listen improve your understanding. Let teachers decide how to guide kids to these new ideas

Teachers are underpaid. They teach for the love of it. Let them find the good in cc without the testing guns to their and our kids heads.

I trust a teacher over Pearson or bill hates any day of the week. Don't all be so defensive and don't be such bullies.

Lastly these are my views as a parent. I'm sure I'm wrong about some of it. Does that mean you're wrong about none o it? Peace.

didn't mean to write Bill hates. I meant to write "doody faced rich guy". Oh just kidding. Alright I'm done. Go ahead and rip my head off.