Monday, October 28, 2013

Questioning Authority

It started with a question* on Facebook.

Parent A: Parents of 7th grade kids in GT Algebra in Howard County, do your kids have and use a textbook in their class? Curious.

Parent B: Hmmm...

Parent C: I'm interested in any responses you receive. Just had a conversation with the teacher this morning, and it was of value. She did point me to to view the curricula, and we discussed several things. I'm happy to share if you're interested.

Parent D: Same answer you got from G. - L. has one but they don't use it because it doesn't align with Common Core.

Parent A: UGH! WTH?! Same with G. I have a big problem with bringing out a new curriculum without supporting and student-friendly resources. G's class is "making their own textbooks" in their notebooks. Yeah. Great plan. Thank god for Khan Academy and a husband with math sense. Makes me want to spit.

Parent B: My husband is the go-to for this stuff, thank heavens. Ugh.

Parent E: The bigger issue is the lack of timely effective communication. Many of us found out about the lack of an aligned textbook only after we started asking questions. I am not qualified to opine on the effectiveness of common core; however, the lack of communication at the school/classroom level is troublesome. I am continually told that this common core concept has been introduced over the past few years. I wish that the administrators would recognize that effective communication happens at the school/classroom level. "Politics is local" comes to mind. I think that I would have been okay with the lack of a text if I as a parent had been notified ahead of time and reassured about the materials that the kids would be using in lieu of a formal text.

Parent A: Although I definitely support teachers having freedom to present materials in different ways, it concerns me that we don't have textbooks for this common core curriculum. What our middle schoolers are learning right now is the basis (truly, the CORE) of what comes next. If their foundation in algebraic skills is shaky... well, they are at risk of dropping out of math. My daughter's mild interest in mathetmatics has completely disappeared this year - mostly due to frustration and feeling "dumb" that she can't just pick the concepts out of thin air (or the internet). If a student is a natural mathematical thinker, they can survive shoddy teaching of skills. That is not the case with all students - even all G/T students.


Think about it for a minute. Our kids have been thrown into a curriculum which isn't ready to be implemented. And it looks like this information hasn't been adequately explained to parents. What do you think about that?


The next day, the conversation continued:

Parent A: I don't have issue, really, with the Common Core itself - just with the shoddy implementation at the middle school level. Learners need to know expectations and structure in order to build confidence at basic skills. Somehow, that isn't happening and I think part of it has to do with lack of preparation? Lack of text? Lack or organization? in the implementation. M's elementary school did a good job transitioning to the Common Core, and even provided before school tutoring to keep kids up to speed. It's that whole "building the airplane while flying" approach that just isn't fair...

Parent E: I ditto what L. said. Poor implementation, lack of communication.

Parent B: All through elementary school, they were continually throwing new stuff at our kids to try to raise test scores. They have been guinea pigs for somebody else's programs at the expense of real, significant learning. This is just more of the same.


My daughter, who has always done extremely well in math, has been coming home since the beginning of this year saying: this is hard, this is boring, I don't get it, maybe I can't be in GT Math anymore if they find out I can't do math anymore. I had a conference with the teacher who said she was getting better all the time and could always ask for help, come in early, get points for corrections on tests. Never in this conversation did any of the issues discussed above ever come up.

I didn't know to ask. I thought it was just my child.

This is a terrible burden to place on our children, and on teachers who have to "build the plane while flying it." I am truly disappointed.

Now what?


*quotes used with permission


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