From May ’05-Aug. ’11, my duties in the Army bounced between two main missions. I deployed to Iraq where my skills were greatly needed. Between deployments, I taught at the US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. I taught every level from fresh privates (associate’s degree level) through seasoned captains hoping soon to be promoted to major (post-graduate, master’s degree level).
Being an Army instructor requires some knowledge of education. Many civilians may not realize it, but we enjoyed having about three years of baccalaureate studies in education force fed to us from a fire-hose over a three week long certification course. That course was just the beginning. I also attended several other education courses including several on modern pedagogy designed for adults (called the Adult Learning Model or the Critical Thinking Model). Common core tries to thrust these onto elementary students. Also, I have an extremely intelligent wife that holds a masters degree in a psychological field. She understands childhood cognitive development better than most elementary educators. We know what we are talking about and tend to drop teachers’ jaws.
I have written several essays and articles on the subject which are archived at Mental Aikido.
In Texas, common core is allegedly illegal. The law states that no common core assessment tools are allowed in Texas public or charter schools. I discovered that after the law was passed, the State Board of Education purchased a computer program designed specifically for common core and directed all public schools to use it. The state even paid for all Texans with school age children to have a home version. It’s been deleted from our computer.
Despite legislation designed to force CSCOPE curricula to be more transparent and fall under parental and school board review, the materials and lesson plans remain in schools. When I asked to review them, I was told to download the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) materials from the Texas Education Agency. TEKS are not curricula and lesson plans. They are the state standards.
The school also undid our work. My wife and I spent hours each day homeschooling our kid over the summer. We had classes the kid picked out of interest (like German). We studied math at two grade levels higher than the year she had just completed. We gave our kid directed research with a couple of questions on a topic. We let the kid go on the internet and in the library. The kid read, wrote, did projects, and enjoyed it. When the kid started the school year, she knew her multiplication tables through 12 and could do some simple long division. She understood fractions and how to compare them.
We were told that kids don’t learn multiplication tables anymore. Nor do they learn cursive writing. They also are not allowed to do cross-multiplication to compare fractions. My kid was told she isn’t allowed to do that. Mid-year, she is struggling because she was told to forget what we taught her in lieu of the “new math”. Subsequently, her average has dropped from the high 90s to the low 90s.
One teacher told the kid to tell us that we needed to be more green and conserve water. She was told to suggest we wash the car on the lawn so that the water is recycled as irrigation. This was from a so-called science teacher. To be more “green” we should drive our car onto the grass and kill some of it. Then we should flood the grass with soapy water, antifreeze, and oil that might possibly be leaking from the car, killing more of it. They call this “science”.
Because Texas legislators and “educators” have bought off on these “new education theories” (that contradict what we know about early childhood cognitive development and Bloom’s Taxonomy) as well as the “International Baccalaureate” program, our kids are stressed-out over standardized tests, but left uneducated.
The teachers are training the kids to take the standardized tests, called STAAR in Texas. They are not teaching kids what they actually need to know. Common core is even worse.
The most disheartening thing to hear is that they don’t teach history or civics. The “citizenship” classes that are incorporated into “social studies” revolved mostly around anti-bullying. The anti-bullying basically told kids not to bully, not to tolerate bullies, and not to make yourself a target of bullies. In other words “conform or else”. We drop teachers jaws when we tell our kid, in front of them, to ignore taunting and teasing. We then tell the kid that if somebody tries to push or hit her she is to defend herself. Comprachicos hate hearing that.
Because of upcoming STAAR testing, they are not even teaching social studies, much less history. It is a required curriculum but not tested for this age group. The teacher was told to stop teaching the subjects until after testing. The priority is on increasing average test scores in order to garner funding. The new reading comprehension plan, PLORE, (Predict, Locate, Organize, Read, Evaluate), is an exam taking strategy. Exam strategies are fine for today. When the kids need to actually perform in the real world they will fall short.
Our kid loves history. She loves reading stories about George Washington. During the summer home-schooling session, she wrote a five page paper on the authors of the “Federalist Papers”. She thinks John Jay was a cool dude. The kid also tries to read the US Constitution, regularly asking me to explain parts of it. When I was in third grade, we learned US History. I wrote a paper comparing “The Ride of Paul Revere” by Longfellow to actual history. These days, kids are not taught these things in schools. Those that are appear revisionist and inaccurate. Too often what is being presented appears to be more like socialist indoctrination than actual history or civics, like comprachicos are attempting to make them pliable little servants rather than responsible, free citizens.
Soon, we hope to get the results from a charter school lottery. The kid was accepted into one last year. However, it was almost an hour away. A Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) charter school closer to us holds its lottery soon. We pray. If not accepted, we are looking into homeschooling. The only issue is the TEKS and STAAR tests apply even to home-schooled students in Texas.
Meanwhile, common core, CSCOPE and these “new education theories” are harming my precocious, intelligent child and the politicians aren’t listening.