Candyce Watsey is an award winning teacher in St. Tammany Parish. She wrote this letter to Lacey Toledano who is the CEO and a President of the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is holding an event on February 4, for members only, that features a panel who will answer questions regarding Common Core Standards. The Chamber will vote whether or not to lobby the legislature to promote or discourage the continued implementation of CCSS.
The Northshore Legislative Alliance invites you to hear both sides of the Common Core issue from a panel of experts on the subject. CABL President Barry Erwin andRayne Martin, Executive Director for Stand for Children Louisiana will share their support for Common Core. Louisiana State Representative Cameron Henry andMercedes Schneider, Ph.D will explain their opposition. A facilitator will ensure a fair and open dialogue so informed decisions can be made.
The NLA is an organization of the East and West St. Tammany Chambers, Hammond Chamber, Northshore Business Council and St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation.
(NOTE) the only educator on the panel is Dr. Mercedes Schneider, a St. Tammany Parish high school English teacher, who is awaiting publication of her new book and expose of Corporate style education reform. You can read her bog at: deutsch.wordpress.com
Lacey has been doing her homework. She attended the LPB Forum in Baton Rouge - sponsored by EXXON - and asked all members on the panel to explain why the Chamber should or should not support Common Core.
Here is the rub. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has issued grants totaling well over $240 million to a long list of organizations specifically for the purpose of promoting the Common Core Initiative. This is no secret as Gates is quite transparent about the money he donates. See this spreadsheet of CCSS funding that has probably enlarged since I downloaded it.
That list includes the $4.5 million that the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (an initiative of the U.S. Chamber) has received from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Common Core’s chief private funder? Part of this grant funds Toolkits for Chamber support.
The National PTA is also a benefactor of over $1 million in the form of CCSS Toolkits for parents in support of CCSS.
Granted, some of these benefactors WERE unaware of the pitfalls and false promises of CCSS when they accepted the funding. Others are (shall I call it what it is?) "co-conspirators" in promoting Common Core. Others, like our teacher unions, claim their strategy of having "a seat at the table." I suspect though that NONE will return the money.
St. Tammany parents, educators and School Board have been leaders in speaking out against Common Core and numerous other travesties of so-called reform ever since Race To The Top flew by surreptitiously including its mandate for "Common standards college and career ready aligned." They rejected. It must be noted that St. Tammany schools are at the top of state ratings (with all due disgust for standardized testing and school performance score methodology).
I invite parents, teachers and taxpayers who realize they are being bilked for the extraordinary costs associated with the implementation of CCSS to contact Lacey and other members of the Chamber Board to voice your opinion supported by evidence. This is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY and the money is coming out of your pocketbook. Here are the Board members and contact information.
My name is Candyce Watsey. This is my 20th year teaching at Mandeville Junior. Before that I spent a total of 10 years teaching at Jesuit High New Orleans and almost 6 years teaching in Orleans Parish Public Schools.
Here is why I am against Common Core.
1. Our state adopted the standards before they were fully written.
2. The architect of the standards, David Coleman, was not a teacher. He is famous for his comment regarding students' writing on personal topics related to the understanding of their own lives. His comment was that "no one gives a sh## about what you think." Sorry, but that is what he said. As an English teacher, I am incensed by his comment. He made it to pitch the case that students should write more about articles and nonfiction and informational texts. We can dialogue more on that issue if you care to.
3. In Louisiana the CCSS are to be evaluated using the computerized PARCC test. Yes, I know that John White has delayed, key word, the computer test for younger students, although they will still take the PARCC test. My 8th graders will still take the test on computer. My school does not yet have enough computers to test all our students. We also do not have a full time librarian or counselor. You see, the money for all this testing has to come from somewhere.
4. Data mining is a reality with common core. The scores and other demographic information, some of which has already been released by John White, will be collected and utilized to further profit from our kids.
5. Private schools, like the notable one I taught at for 10 years, are not being entrapped by Common Core. Their students will not have their information mined, and their students will not be subjected to the inappropriate standards and convoluted curriculum that follows the standards. At Jesuit, the TEACHERS wrote what we then called our core skills and refined them as needed.
6. Common Core standards may not be changed! You have got to be kidding me! No one who knows a hoot about teaching would ever accept such inflexibility. But see, we don't seem to care if we frustrate public school students to the point of tears, do we?
7. The ELA standards are developmentally inappropriate and shortsighted. For example, an 8th grade standard is on teaching gerunds, participles, and infinitives. Now, no one loves pure theoretical grammar as much as I, but this standard presumes that kids have been taught some pretty heavy duty abstract grammar, none of which, by the way, will be covered on our exalted LEAP test. And this brings me to my next point...
8. Common Core has not been phased in. Oh no, it has simply been dumped on all 12 grades at once! So back to my example about about participles, gerunds, and infinitives. That standard is based on a scaffolded approach to grammar that was not delivered in previous grades, and rightly so.
9. Common Core was not piloted. Yes, it's true. We just dumped it on Louisiana public school students and seem to be happy to let the chips fall where they may.
10. A quick visit to the websites of Jesuit, Newman, St. Martins, Dominican, Mt. Carmel, and Country Day yielded NO search results when I searched for Common Core. Sounds like we're setting up an educational caste system here. Not good in a democracy.
11. I thought this was America.
I wish I could attend your forum on Feb. 4th, but it will be my privilege to be in my classroom continuing to try to pick up the pieces from this debacle. Please contact me if you care to dialogue further. I would welcome that.