Looks like we are in the same boat with Louisiana

Just like here in NYS, Louisiana is undertaking a review of the Common Core standards. And just like in NYS, the game is rigged in the interest of maintaining the status quo. Translation? There is no room for divergent thinking for the Standaristas in Louisiana. Dr. Maria Guilott’s resignation letter to the panel chairwoman, Regina Sanford, describes how teachers were given a sham voice and then ignored at the expense of the children they speak on behalf of. Sound familiar? The teachers were asking for a standard that acknowledged the importance of creativity. It was rejected because creativity can’t be tested. Read Guilott’s letter and get mad.

October 19, 2015

Dear Regina,

Effective today, October 19, 2015, I am officially resigning as a member of the English Language Arts Curriculum Review Committee. When I was appointed to the committee, I was hopeful and believed it was an opportunity to have open discussions, to consider new possibilities and improve the existing document so that it more closely reflected the needs of students in Louisiana. To that end, you and I met with teachers in our school system and asked them what would make a positive difference in the standards as a guiding document. Without exception, teachers pointed to the need to address creativity directly, not just implied or understood. We therefore submitted and “additional” standard to the Louisiana Department of Education list of Common Core State Standards the committee was supposed to review.

  • The actual standard we submitted was that students generate thoughts and opinions that support divergent thinking. [Her emphasis]
  • The rationale for the addition was to prepare students to be innovators and communicators of ideas and solutions.

 By noon on October 13, 2015 when we met in Alexandria, it was evident to me that the intent of the review was to minimize the number of changes to the existing document. In fact, 95% of the changes I had proposed that resulted from our meetings with teachers in St. Tammany Parish were not even considered in my small group. Consequently, it is no surprise that our proposed addition to the standards had no chance of survival. Since I had to leave at 4:00PM, I called you to check to see if the group had approved our standard. When you told me they had not, I was more than disappointed. For me, the fact that the group did not even entertain the possibility of including one standard that focused solely on creativity was not acceptable and that is the reason I am resigning.

At this point I have the following questions of the committee:

  1. Since an objection I heard from the group was that the suggested standard could not be tested, does that mean that everything that needs to be in the standards had to be tested on a standardized, high-stakes test?
  2. At the end of the day, what do we want students to be able to do? Do we want them to do well on a test or do we want them to be able to think for themselves?

I close with a heavy heart and a high level of concern for the direction that our state has taken in the education of our precious children.

Sincerely,  Margo Guilott

About Betsy Bloom

Betsy is an Associate Professor of Education at Hartwick College in Oneonta NY. She is also a parent of two, a nine year veteran middle school social studies teacher and the current president of the NYS Foundations of Education Association, an organization dedicated to achieving social justice through public education.
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