MEDIA WATCH: Ugly and Uglier: One Year of Common Core at the NewYork Times... Common Core -- propaganda as 'news' and The New York Times...

[Editor's Note: As most Substance readers know, The New York Times generally sets the ruling class's agenda of (a) important topics and (b) how to think about those topics. Usually, the Times's propaganda on behalf of the agenda is presented as "news." The way the propaganda part enters in is that the Times only quotes those people and organization's that agree with the editorial slant of the "news" being presented. For several years after Barack Obama became President and appointed Arne Duncan U.S. Secretary of Education (despite the fact that Duncan had absolutely no teaching or administrative experience in Chicago's local schools), the Times had a reporter (Sam Dillon) who did little but periodically recycle Duncan's talking points and Education Department propaganda as "news." With the growing controversies over Common Core and Opt Out, the Times continues to stretch to provide the backing for the ruling class's policies. Here we are publishing the most exhaustive accounting of how the Times has been reporting on Common Core, thanks to Susan Ohanian for here relentless pursuit of the facts, despite the attempts by the Times, its reporters, and its editors to obfuscate... George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

The Times building in Times Square New York.Ugly and Uglier: One Year of Common Core at the NewYork Times by Susan Ohanian

New York Times reporter Pam Belluck explains the careful investigation the staff undertakes when reporting on medical research:

One of the many things we do in the Science department is keep apprised of significant studies that are about to be published. Major journals typically provide news media with two or three days' notice of forthcoming studies so we have time to read and evaluate them, and talk with the authors and other experts so we can run an informed story when the journal publishes its study. Once we decide it's worth doing a story, there are several next steps. Besides doing a detailed reading of the study, examining related cancer research and interviewing the researchers and unconnected experts, I'm always interested in talking with real people with relevant experiences. End-Stage Chemotherapy: Reporter's Notebook That last sentence cuts to the core on my problem with the Times coverage of education in general and the Common Core in particular: Interviewing researchers

Interviewing unconnected experts

Talking with real people

Contrast this with the haphazard way important issues such as the Common Core mandates and the accompanying tests are presented. From time to time, reporters make passing reference to the Common Core research base, but I have never seen mention of an actual research paper. As for the 'connectedness' of their education sources,see my 'Race to the Top' and the Bill Gates Connection Who gets to speak about what schools need? in Extra a publication of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). In zeroing in on one Florida politico, Andrew Rosenthal, Editorial Page Editor, suggests that opposition to Common Core is hysteria--and worse:

One of the most vicious teachers bashing pundits for corporate "school reform" is Brent Staples.Common Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left, Feb. 17, 2014 Now? None last year? Last week? Just now. An Aug. 16 piece by Motoko Rich also refers to "the left." School Standards' Debut is Rocky, and Critics Pounce The Common Core, a set of standards for kindergarten through high school that has been ardently supported by the Obama administration and many business leaders and state legislatures, is facing growing opposition from both the right and the left even before it has been properly introduced into classrooms. "The Right" are Tea Party conservatives. The Left? Anybody's guess. The only opponents mentioned are "a group of parents and teachers" who argue that the tests aligned with the standards are too difficult. No one was reported singing Internationale. Plenty of Leftists who know a lot about pedagogy--and kids--are against the Common Core. I have never seen any of them interviewed in the New York Times. Now suggests that the only opposition to the Common Core has come from conservatives. Even more problematic is just who "the left" is: "Left" to the New York Times seems to be a Long Island school principal, the New York state teachers union request for a three-year pause, and governor Cuomo's complaint the state's execution of the standards is "flawed." Not a Marxist or even a Socialist in the lot. Nobody expressing anything "Left" of Main Street. No invoking of Paulo Friere or even John Dewey or Howard Zinn. Or a teacher or two. Some relief comes from the Science Desk, Oct. 7, 2014: Preparing Your Child for Common Core Tests and is referred to as "an occasional column on developments in what educators call STEM -- for science, technology, engineering and math." Kenneth Chang, science reporter for The New York Times, covering chemistry, geology, solid state physics, nanotechnology, Pluto, plague and other scientific miscellany, comes to this thoughtful conclusion after attending his 4th grade daughter's back-to-school night. He actually knows something about science and math, having left the Ph.D. program at the University of Illinois after seven years to take up science writing: A keyboard and mouse is not a natural way of doing math, and I wondered whether these questions would be more a test of computer interface. Laura Slover, the chief executive of Parcc, asked me if I had done the tutorial before taking the practice test. I had not. I asked if it was reasonable to expect that all students would have the time and opportunity to do that. She said the organization encouraged taking the tutorial, and that in the field test last spring, students who practiced beforehand did not find the computers an obstacle. Hint to parents: If your children are to take one of these tests, make sure they puzzle out the interface first. This mildly critical look at a possible problem, by a reporter who actually tried out a Common Core exercise and talked to

a) kids

b) a teacher

c) someone at PARCC

sits in sharp contrast with typical coverage of the Common Core. Here's Pulitzer awardee and eight-year Times executive editor Bill Keller, War on the Core, Aug. 19, 2013: I understand the urge to take what looks to a layman like nothing more than a mean spirit or a mess of contradictions and brand it. (The New Libertarianism! Burkean Revivalists!) But more and more, I think Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's Republican rising star, had it right when he said his party was in danger of becoming simply "the stupid party." A case in point is the burgeoning movement to kill what is arguably the most serious educational reform of our lifetime. I'm talking about the Common Core, a project by a consortium of states to raise public school standards nationwide. Common Core: most serious education reform of our lifetime and to attack it is to be stupid. And worse. Keller's view is kissing kin to David Brooks,who can be depended on for a flip dismissal of "the left":, When the Circus Descends, April 18, 2014 We are pretty familiar with this story: A perfectly sensible if slightly boring idea is walking down the street. Suddenly, the ideological circus descends, burying the sensible idea in hysterical claims and fevered accusations. The idea's political backers beat a craven retreat. The idea dies. This is what seems to be happening to the Common Core education standards, which are being attacked on the right because they are common and on the left because they are core. December 8, 2013 Sunday paper's Q&A with Anthony Carnevale actually has some meat, substance missing in most articles mentioning Common Core. I'm not saying I agree--just saying it's more than boilerplate. Carnevale is an economist who is director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce All This provoked me to take a closer look at how the New York Times covers the Common Core day by day. Here's 2013. I'm leaving out the oneline Learning Network: Teaching and Learning with the New York Times, which runs an onging blog called Common Core Practice, suggesting zillions of classroom activities keyed to articles in the paper and specific Common Core Standards. I'm leaving out most blogs--just showing what the Times declares fit to print-- and, because most reporter language characterizing the Common Core is so boilerplate, I'm not naming the Staff--except when I do name a few. Common Core coverage falls into these categories: news item by a staff reporter

opinion piece by a staff op ed writer

opinion piece by Times Editorial Board

piece by someone else

Common Core in 2013 Jan 18, Staff: Christian Pioneer of Home Schooling looks to its Future The early 1990s, she said, were "the golden age of educational software." It was like Eden before the fall. "It wasn't all, 'Let's find a Hollywood voice actor,' or 'Let's meet the Common Core standards,'" she said. "They were being innovative." Ms. Pride reminisced fondly about games like Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey, "where you solved puzzles by inventing things." March 1, Staff: New State Academic Standards Are Said to Require $56 Million Outlay for City's Schools Adopted by 45 states, the Common Core sets a national benchmark for what students should learn in English and math. It does not detail all of the curriculums students should learn, but is intended to help them build skills for success. April 9, Staff: Science Panel Calls for Broad Changes in Science Education In many respects, the standards are meant to do for science what a separate set of guidelines known as the Common Core is supposed to do for English and mathematics: impose and raise standards, with a focus on critical thinking and primary investigation.

April 13, Professor opinion: Teachers: Will We Ever Learn? In the past few years, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core standards that ask much more of students; raising standards for teachers is a critical parallel step. We have an almost endless list of things that we would like the next generation of schools to do: teach critical thinking, foster collaboration, incorporate technology, become more student-centered and engaging. The more skilled our teachers, the greater our chances of achieving these goals.

April 15, Staff: Students Face Tougher Tests That Outpace Lesson Plans Recently, administrators at Public School 94 in the Bronx invested in 300 protractors when they realized the tests might require them. "Now, we are teaching the kids how to use them," the principal, Diane DaProcida, said. To her students, Ms. DaProcida was sympathetic, but blunt. "To stay competitive in the global economy, you children need to be better prepared." April 18, Editorial Page blog: Moving Ahead with Common core New York City parents are understandably nervous about tough new state tests that were rolled out last week. And some parents whose children have already taken the tests are outraged. They shouldn't be: the tests, which measure math and English skills, are an essential part of rigorous education reforms known as Common Core that seek to improve reasoning skills and have been adopted by 45 states. . . . The Common Core standards were the product of a heavily researched, bipartisan effort pioneered by the National Governors Association in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers. The effort arose from a broad recognition that the United States was losing ground to many of its competitors abroad because the learning standards as applied in most states were pathetically weak. . . April 26: 1 letter May 1, Staff Union Chief Recommends Delay In Use of Test Scores "As the education status quo calls for endless delay that would prevent progress in order to hold on to its power, our kids are falling further behind the rest of the world," said Glen Weiner, acting executive director of StudentsFirstNY, an advocacy group. May 19, Staff: Schools Add to Test Load Just to Assess the Questions And supporters of the Common Core standards worry that the furor over field tests, along with growing skepticism among conservatives about the idea of standards embraced by the federal government, could undermine what they consider one of the most significant reforms to the American education system in decades. May 22: 1 letter May 27, Editorial Board: Caution and the Common Core The rigorous Common Core learning standards that have been adopted by 45 states represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the United States to improve public schools nationally, bringing math, science and literacy education up to levels achieved by high-performing nations abroad. May 30, Staff: In Raising Scores, 1 2 3 is Easier than A B C New curriculum standards known as the Common Core that have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia could raise the bar in math. "As math has become more about talking, arguing and writing, it's beginning to require these kinds of cultural resources that depend on something besides school," said Deborah L. Ball, dean of the school of education at the University of Michigan. June 5, Editorial Board: Better Teachers for New York City The new teacher evaluation system that the New York State education commissioner, John King Jr., has imposed on New York City represents an important and necessary step toward carrying out the rigorous new Common Core education reforms

June 5, Editorial Board: The Split Between the States

On Medicaid, education and many other issues, the map of the United States is becoming a patchwork of conscience and callousness. . . . In Indiana, Georgia, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and several other states, conservatives are blocking the adoption of national Common Core education standards. Many states are refusing to spend money on necessary road repairs. June 5, 1 letter June 9, Professional Opinion--Teacher: No Learning Without Feeling

My fear is that we cannot reckon with the difficult truths of real works of art, that the disturbance we feel when reading Alice Walker's "Color Purple" is rated too disruptive to the analysis of student yearly progress to be read for a test. My suspicion is that the Common Core enumerates skills and not books because as a country we still feel that real works of art are too divisive. It is more comfortable to remain agnostic, to permit our teens to remain an education-product consumer group, fed skills-building exercises that help adults to avoid the hard truths our children have no choice but to face. June 9, Professional opinion--professors: Who's Minding the Schools? [A] radical curriculum -- one that has the potential to affect more than 50 million children and their parents -- was introduced with hardly any public discussion. Americans know more about the events in Benghazi than they do about the Common Core. June 12: 5 letters June 19, Staff: Arts Committee Sounds an Alarm

The report touches on some contentious issues, starting with its clear endorsement of the Common Core, a national standards initiative that has been embraced by more than 40 states and the District of Columbia and is aligned with the drive toward standardized testing.

June 23: 5 letters July 7 Staff: Wedding Announcement [The Bride] is senior Common Core Fellow for the New York City Department of Education in Manhattan. July 14, Editorial Board The Trouble with Test Mania Some problems could be partly solved by the Common Core learning standards, an ambitious set of goals for what students should learn. The Common Core, adopted by all but a handful of states, could move the nation away from rote memorization -- and those cheap, color-in-the-bubble tests -- and toward a writing-intensive system that gives students the reasoning skills they need in the new economy.

July 17 4 letters July 22 2 letters July 24 Staff: Education Overhaul Faces a Test of Partisanship The bill that passed last week is also aimed at satisfying those who oppose the Common Core, a set of standards that outline what each student should learn in reading and math from kindergarten through high school. The standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, but critics have accused the Obama administration of foisting them on states behind the fig leaf of the waivers offered to No Child Left Behind. Aug. 5, Staff Results of New Testing Standard Could Complicate Bloomberg's Final Months The Common Core standards, adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, have garnered praise for their emphasis on free-form thinking, but they have met resistance in some corners, including from conservatives skeptical of national standards, and parents wary of testing. Aug. 8, Editorial Board: New York's Common Core Test Scores Over the last decade or so, most states deceived the public about the dismal quality of public schools by adopting pathetically weak learning standards that made children appear better prepared than they actually were. . . . The Common Core standards are aimed at helping children acquire sophisticated reasoning skills. The goal is to move the schools away from rote learning -- and those weak, multiple choice bubble tests -- to a writing-intensive curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving skills. Aug. 8, Staff Sneak Preview: What the New SAT and the Digital ACT Might Look Like Deciding what students should master has been Mr. Coleman's metier: he was an architect of the Common Core standards -- guidelines for what students should learn in each grade -- that are being put into place in most states. So it is no surprise that he has clear views on what the SAT should test, although he declines to offer specifics because College Board members need to be consulted on every element of the redesign. Over the last decade or so, most states deceived the public about the dismal quality of public schools by adopting pathetically weak learning standards that made children appear better prepared than they actually were. Aug.8 Staff Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as the Common Core, which emphasize deep analysis and creative problem-solving over short answers and memorization. . . . "We have to make sure that we give our kids constantly the opportunity to move towards the major leagues," Mr. Bloomberg said. . . . "Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities," Mr. Duncan said. "Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators." Aug 9 3 letters Aug 13, Staff A Principal Leans on Her Experience In her April letter to parents, Ms. Allanbrook wrote that the [Common Core] test was unrealistically hard. ("What 10-year-old understands the difference between loneliness and being alone, especially in poetic form?") She said it was too long for 9- and 10-year-olds (70 minutes a day over six days versus two days of testing in the 1990s) and had questions with more than one answer. "After the second hour of the third day, (and following two and a half days of pretty impressively sustained effort)," she wrote, "one student had enough. He only had two questions left, but he couldn't keep going. He banged his head on the desk so hard everyone in the room jumped." Aug. 16, staff School Standards' Debut is Rocky, and Critics Pounce The standards, which were written by a panel of experts convened by governors and state superintendents, focus on critical thinking and analysis rather than memorization and formulas. Aug. 19, Op Ed Staff: War on the Core This is an ambitious undertaking, and there is plenty of room for debate about precisely how these standards are translated into classrooms. But the Common Core was created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators, convinced that after decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education, the country had to come together on a way to hold our public schools accountable. Aug. 21 3 letters Aug. 22, Op Ed Staff The Common Core and the Common Good We have gone from the leader to a laggard. According to the Broad Foundation. . . . As Amanda Ripley, investigative journalist, explains. . .

Sept. 3, Staff Science: With Common Core, Fewer Topics but Covered More Rigorously [B]y cutting back on a hodgepodge of topics and delving deeper into central concepts, the hope is that the children will understand it better. Sept. 17, Staff For Bloomberg, a Day to Celebrate Successful Schools Note: An Associated Press headline read "Mayor Sees Good News for NYC Despite Lower Scores." The performances on the new exams, which were some of the first nationwide to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as the Common Core, offered Mr. Bloomberg a chance to boast about his education record as his 12-year run as mayor comes to a close. "Our administration"s core philosophy, when it comes to education, has always been, if we raise our expectations, our kids will meet them," Mr. Bloomberg said at Talented and Gifted Young Scholars, a citywide gifted school in East Harlem that was one of the 22 high-scoring schools. Sept. 27, Staff Cultural Warrior Gaining Ground Mr. Hirsch did not write the Common Core, but his curriculums -- lesson plans, teaching materials and exercises -- are seen as matching its heightened expectations of student progress. And philosophically, the Common Core ideal of a rigorous nationwide standard has become a vindication of Mr. Hirsch's long campaign against what he saw as the squishiness -- a lack of specific curriculums for history, civics, science and literature -- in modern education. Aug.28, Staff, For Long-Shot New Jersey Senate Candidate, Passion and No Filter Conservative crowds reacted excitedly to Mr. Lonegan, cheering when he talked about the "commie -- I mean the Common Core" curriculum in schools.

Sept. 29, Editorial Principal and Teacher, A Complex Duet Note: This is by Brent Staples, who writes most editorials on education but whose name rarely appears. In addition to taking on the evaluation challenge, school administrators across the county will oversee installation of the rigorous new Common Core standards, adopted by all but a handful of states. The ambitious learning goals are intended to move schools away from rote learning and memorization and toward intensive writing and high-level reasoning skills. Oct. 9 5 letters Oct 11, Staff Raising the GED Bar Stirs Concern for Students Officials at Educational Testing Service and McGraw Hill say they will offer both online and paper versions initially and will gradually adjust the tests to align with the Common Core standards, which are still being put in effect in elementary and secondary schools throughout the country.

Oct. 15, Staff Delivery Delays Keep New Books Out of Teachers' Hands Because all of the books associated with their new English curriculum have not yet arrived, teachers at Public School 125 in West Harlem have been pulling last year's texts from storage, dusting them off and handing them out, even though they are not considered rigorous enough for the revised standards. . . . A month into the school year, teachers in New York City's public schools are pushing on despite missing important new math and English materials that were ordered in the spring to match the tougher Common Core learning standards taking root across the country. Oct 26, Staff: Obama at Brooklyn School, Pushes E8ducation agenda Some said they heard in his words a boost for the new, more rigorous academic standards that have been adopted around the nation, known as the Common Core, as he praised Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and others as having courage for raising standards for teachers.

Oct. 22, Staff: Language-Study bolsters 'a push for Pre-K Now, with the advent of the Common Core, a set of rigorous reading and math standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade that has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, educators say the pressure to prepare young children is growing more intense.

Oct. 26, Staff: New York State Seeks to Scale Back Student Testing The proposals are modest, but they represent a rare concession from state leaders, who have faced attacks from parents and teachers in recent weeks over the rollout of a tougher set of standards known as the Common Core. Nov. 8, Staff: US Reading and Match Scores Show Slight Gains Susan Pimentel, one of the lead writers of the Common Core standards for English language and literacy, said the new guidelines asked students to read more demanding material, including more nonfiction, and to cite evidence from their reading when answering complex questions. She said such instruction could help both to improve reading skills generally and to close the gap between boys and girls, since boys seem to prefer nonfiction. Nov. 11, Staff: A Plea for Catholic Schools to Ignore New Guidelines In a letter to the nation's bishops last month, the group, including more than 100 professors and university administrators, argued that the Common Core would actually lower standards, that it would move parochial schools away from their grounding in the church, and that its emphasis on increased nonfiction reading across many subjects would translate into less focus on literary and philosophical classics, and moral teaching. Nov. 18, Staff: At Forums, New York State Education Commissioner Faces a Barrage of Complaints In a series of public forums across the state, John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner, has become the sounding board for crowds of parents, educators and others who equate his name with all they consider to be broken in schooling today. Some blame him for too quickly imposing more rigorous academic standards tied to what is known as the Common Core. Parents call him deaf to the misery of pupils taking standardized tests and too open to commercial involvement in the system; teachers blame him for sapping what joy they had left in their craft. "There is now a 'Common Core Syndrome,' " Beth Dimino, an eighth-grade science teacher, said on Tuesday, speaking to Dr. King in a packed high school auditorium in Suffolk County. Nov. 20, Editorial Board: Advertisements for the Common Core The country is engaged in a fierce debate about two educational reforms that bear directly on the future of its schoolchildren: first, teacher evaluation systems that are taking hold just about everywhere, and, second, the Common Core learning standards that have been adopted by all but a few states and are supposed to move the schools toward a more challenging, writing-intensive curriculum. Both reforms -- or at least the principles behind them -- got a welcome boost from reading and math scores released recently by the federal government. Nov. 20, Staff Campaign Seeks to Recruit Top Students to Become Teachers The campaign comes at a time when public education is increasingly riven by battles over the use of standardized testing in teacher performance evaluations and the rollout of the Common Core, new benchmarks for what students need to know and be able to do between kindergarten and the end of high school. The standards have been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Some critics say that such policies, which have been encouraged by the Department of Education, could make recruiting top candidates to the profession more difficult. Nov. 24, Staff OpEd: Are Kids Too Coddled? . . . the welling hysteria: from right-wing alarmists, who hallucinate a federal takeover of education and the indoctrination of a next generation of government-loving liberals; from left-wing paranoiacs, who imagine some conspiracy to ultimately privatize education and create a new frontier of profits for money-mad plutocrats. Nov. 25: 2 letters Nov. 29 1 letter Caution on Education Today's education reform policies are a vast experiment. While the Common Core may turn out to be a step forward, there are plenty of reasons to be cautious about its presumed benefits, as well as about the efficacy of the latest vogue in teacher evaluation. Meaningful school reform is a highly complex human task. Good policy depends on a clear understanding of what we really do know and what we don't. We need more thoughtful analyses and fewer premature judgments about what works. Nov. 30: 4 letters Dec. 8: Q &A I'm sort of what you might call a friendly dissenter on Common Core. I'm not opposed to it. I just think we're missing an opportunity to build one more pathway. In a society that's rich, where education is as important as it is, there needs to be more than one pathway. Dec. 8, Editorial Board Who Says Math Has to Be Boring? The Common Core math standards now being adopted by most states are an important effort to raise learning standards, particularly in primary and middle school, when many students begin to fall behind. They encourage the use of technology and applied thinking, moving students away from rote memorization. At the high school level, they would introduce all students to useful concepts like real-world modeling. But the standards also assume that all high school students should pursue a high-level math track, studying quadratic equations, transformational geometry and logarithms. The standards need more flexibility to ensure that they do not stand in the way of nontraditional but effective ways to learn, including career-oriented study.

Dec. 8, staff Deciding Who Gets to See Students' Data EDUCATION technology software for prekindergarten to 12th grade is an $8 billion market, according to estimates from the Software and Information Industry Association. One major reason is the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a program to standardize English and math curriculums nationally. To prepare for assessment tests for those standards, many districts across the country are investing in software to analyze individual student performance in more detail. Services like inBloom want to speed the introduction and lower the cost of these assessment tools by standardizing data storage and security.

Dec. 13, Staff: Educational Publisher's Charity Accused of Seeking Profits Will Pay Millions The inquiry by the attorney general focused on Pearson's attempts to develop a suite of products around the Common Core, a new and more rigorous set of academic standards that has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Around 2010, Pearson began financing an effort through its foundation to develop courses based on the Common Core. The attorney general's report said Pearson had hoped to use its charity to win endorsements and donations from a "prominent foundation." That group appears to be the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "Pearson Inc. executives believed that branding their courses by association with the prominent foundation would enhance Pearson's reputation with policy makers and the education community," a release accompanying the attorney general's report said. Dec. 14, Editorial Board: Even Gift8d Students Can't Keep Up It is vital that students in the middle get increased attention, as the new Common Core standards are designed to do, but when the brightest students are not challenged academically, they lose steam and check out.

Dec. 18, Editorial Board: Why Other Teachers Teach Better The United States can either learn from its competitors abroad -- and finally summon the will to make necessary policy changes -- or fall further and further behind. Dec. 23, Staff Bumppy Start for Teacher Evaluation Program in New York Schools This is all coinciding with more rigorous academic standards, known as the Common Core, which require whole new curriculums in some cases. One morning last month at P.S. 295 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, nine adults were at work in a first-grade classroom of 30 general and special education students: the teacher being observed, a second teacher and three paraprofessionals assigned to the classroom, the principal, the assistant principal, a talent coach and a school system official serving as an adviser. Dec. 31, Editorial Board: Mr. deBlasio New Appointments The chancellor faces other daunting challenges, including installation of the Common Core learning standards, the ambitious set of academic goals that have been adopted by all but a handful of states. She must implement a teacher evaluation and professional development system to help teachers master a new approach to learning. And she must help Mr. de Blasio through contract negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers, which represents 40 percent of the city's work force. Meanwhile, as already mentioned, I left out New York Times blogs, including Paul Krugman's Stupid Is a Strategy, wherein he opined on "the entirely praiseworthy, up to now bipartisan effort to create a Common Core curriculum." Even the best resort to boilerplate rather than examine the matter. I will include this one lengthy blog--by the Public Editor, in answer to readers' complaints. Remember, this is a blog, not a story in the newspaper of record, the place that publishes "what's fit to print": The Public Editor's Journal -- Margaret Sullivan blog, April 22, 2014 Introducing the Reader Spotlight: A Teacher's View of Common Core As I've noted, I get mail. Fairly often, a reader's view, sent to me, stands quite well on its own and deserves a wider audience. Toward that end, I'll occasionally feature here a letter -- possibly lightly trimmed or edited for style -- that fits that description. This one, from Heidi Reich, a public school teacher in New York State, is a response to Sunday's front-page article on the education standards known as Common Core. This was also the subject of a David Brooks column last week. Reader mail has been heavy on the subject, mostly expressing unhappiness with how the opposition to the standards has been depicted as political, rather than because of their flaws as educational tools. (The Times has written a number of stories on this subject; not all of the coverage has focused on politics.) Here it is: I'm writing to express my dismay at The Times's representation of opposition to the Common Core. I'm sure you have received many letters so far, some from "extremist" politicians, including Republicans and leaders of various teachers' unions, sure; but others from parents, moderately political teachers and possibly even a student or two. I am a teacher and have been for 15 years, which means I am right in the middle of my career. I have been recognized for my teaching by Math for America (I have been a "Master Teacher" for eight or so years now), am locally respected (sorry, no data to support that) and have loved my job for all of these years. Now I find that the nutty wacky whims of the Department of Education under Bloomberg and Klein have been dwarfed by NYS and the federal government's desire to implement truly difficult standards in a matter of months. We (teachers) are required to write curriculum based on almost NO information, tailor said curriculum to testing about which there are NO data, and still teach our five classes of 34 students a day without skipping a beat. I imagine you are thinking, why do you need to tailor curriculum to tests, especially if the tests don't even exist yet? Sure, it has something to do with our jobs being on the line if our students don't surpass some standard or other (sorry, but to us it all seems just so very arbitrary), but more to the point, no reform means anything until you see what assessment is going to be. We are accustomed to writing our curricula by determining what it is we want our students to be able to do and then designing activities and lessons to convey those expectations and to train students to accomplish goals. It would be duplicitous for the powers that be to withhold those expectations from us if they were even close to having established them, but we are all too aware that, unfortunately, Pearson and others are scrambling madly to write tests (for billions and billions of dollars) that they have no time to field test, which has already resulted in chaos and utter confusion in lower grades in NY State. My colleagues and I have NO problem holding students to high standards as long as those standards are clearly conveyed to us and as long as we have time to develop appropriate curricula and activities. (We would have used the summer to do this if the standards had been available before September -- not happily, but we would have done so.) The current situation is diametrically opposed to that. And I must reiterate my disappointment that The Times, the only paper of record as far as I am concerned, totally missed the point: that parents and students and educators are ALL up in arms about the Common Core, not just extremist politicians on both sides, because to us, the Common Core standards are not even standards. They are vague ideas being developed (for huge personal profit) by billionaires and testing companies, imposed upon teachers, students and parents with complete disregard for education, learning and progress. Coda: March 3, 2013, the old Grey Lady ran a corrections on their Common Core coverage: An article on Friday about New York City's estimate that it will cost about $56 million to buy new textbooks and other materials to help city public school students meet rigorous Common Core academic standards misidentified the classes in New York State that will take standardized tests in April based on the new standards. It is third through eighth graders, not kindergartners through eighth graders. I haven't seen any corrections on all their many many other Common Core misstatements. The New York Times' meticulous correction when, say, they misspell someone's name, is done to reassure readers of their precision, their devotion to accuracy. Get the small things right. Willfully and deliberately obfuscate,distort, and lie about what matters. � Susan Ohanian


August 02, 2015


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