By Judy Malys
Since 1852, with the first compulsory public school established in Massachusetts, education has been evolving. As teachers, we often said it felt like a pendulum that swung from one theory to the next, but mostly in an effort to demonstrate improved education results. Common Core may well be the next piece of that evolution, but what Common Core must not become is a catalyst commandeered by political groups to meet their narrow needs. Public education should not become political pingpong in an effort to privatize education, encourage vouchers, tax credits and charters and eliminate teacher tenure.
Privatizing education offers a billion-dollar opportunity to big businesses that cater to educational testing and materials. Profit is the name of the game, not education. Loss of local control of public education would be similar to privatizing Social Security. It results in both the loss of security and effectiveness to the client.
In a multicultural country, it is hard to say one size fits all in anything. Public education has always been the great equalizer – the ladder up, so to speak. College- and career-ready is a more realistic goal than Common Core as a descriptor because it meets the needs of more individuals.
Families have always chosen the education that fits their personal circumstances best. Since the pot of money available to devote to education is defined, the more you water it down the less effective the results become. The result is more inequitable opportunity with fewer resources for all. In much the same way that I would not want to have my Medicare replaced with a voucher, I certainly do not want to see education turned into a tax-credit, voucher option for my grandchildren.
In the same way that NAFTA outsourced many manufacturing jobs, some seem to think it is time to diminish and outsource teachers. Education is being turned into a business opportunity and big business is frothing at the bit to computerize teachers out of existence. I believe in teachers as facilitators and good integration of technology in the classroom. I believe education should be data-driven. I don’t believe it should be gathered under a cloud so big business can profit by creating programs to market back to schools. I want my grandchildren to be able to tell me what course and teacher made a difference in their lives, not what a computer program accomplished.
We need to adapt Common Core to meet the needs of all students. In many communities, we have a pretty good track record for developing the strengths of each student. We thrive on local control, excellent teacher-student relationships and implementation of the standards that meet our needs. Give us the variance, opportunity and financial aid and we’ll produce excellent results. Let’s leave the politics out of it.
Judy Malys is a retired East Aurora teacher.