By Akosua K. Albritton
Sam Anderson, Ph.D,,a retired Mathematics and Black History college professor, is one of the many education professionals who connect Common Core Standards (and assessments) to the establishment of charter schools.
Anderson believes the Common Core Curriculum (CCC) and testing are a direct means to weakening teacher unions, closing public schools and replacing these schools with charter schools.
“The CCC is about scripted teaching while shaping the school culture into a more corporate school-as-a-McDonald’s franchise,” he said in an interview recently with Our Time Press. “CCC has helped to legitimize all the mythical notions of school “choice” and the “miracles” of charter schools” and “it is part of a larger corporate package to completely transform public education into a system of private entities…just like the capitalists did with public health.”
Dr. Anderson referred to a report titled “Death by a Thousand Cuts, Racism, School Closures and Public School Sabotage” prepared in 2014 by Journey for Justice 2014. The 44-page document also reveals “an epidemic of public school closures in communities of color located in 21 of America’s major cities”.
“Bills pushed by The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” Dr. Anderson notes, “would privatize public education, crush teacher unions and push American universities to the Right.
“Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds”.
According to its website, ALEC is “America’s largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism”. Among the 10 “task forces” it operates are: Education and Workforce Development, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Criminal Justice Reform, Civil Justice, Economic Development, Communications & Technology, Energy, Environment & Agriculture, and Health & Human Services.
To make the public aware of ALEC’s activities, The Center for Media and Democracy maintains a Wiki-based website called ALECExposed.org, its corporate funding sources and the US elected officials who are part of ALEC. ALECExposed.org reveals “ALEC is not a lobby…[Rather] through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights…” This site names the politicians that are members, the corporations that fund ALEC and the corporations that have distanced themselves from ALEC.
Perhaps the state of New York City teaching can be understood when one discovers the source of the current teacher pool as well as how they are instructed to teach.
A visit to the Teach for America (TFA) website reveals TFA recruits people from various professional backgrounds. An education degree is not required. Before going into a classroom on their own, the recruits attend “a multi-week summer institute”. Further, core members must have some form of state-issued credentials. After this short preparation, the professionals are assigned classrooms and receive “individual and team coaching from a manager of teacher leadership and development”. This process takes many shortcuts from the traditional teacher college experience which includes a teacher practicum.
The Common Core Standards for mathematics include 1) Constructing viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others, 2) Reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, and 3) Attending to precision.
We asked Dr. Anderson if, during the last 10 – 15 years, he knew whether US teacher colleges have been preparing their students to be teachers to instruct and cultivate such thinking in their pupils.
“Most teacher colleges, fortunately, have stayed the righteous pedagogical course. The problem is, most major cities’ teacher recruitment strategies have been to take Teach for America’s “instant teachers” over those coming from traditional teacher colleges.
For example, under Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio’s mayoral control, 60% of new teacher hires come from Teach for America.” Unfortunately, many teachers of color with master’s and doctorates were taken out of classrooms and placed in the Department of Education’s Temporary Reassignment Centers, or “rubber rooms”, due to charges of incompetence or infractions years before Common Core.
These centers held some 700 teachers of various ethnicities until the last school day in June 2010. However, it was reported in the New York Post that the rubber rooms reopened in January 2016.
This writer has yet to identify a source that can substantiate the claim that the institution of Common Core State Standards has diminished the Caribbean-/African-American and Latino teacher pool in New York. But Anderson notes that “Some—not most—teacher colleges have been prepping their students to fit the pedagogical mold of the CCC.”