SEATTLE – A flood of disgruntled teachers recently took their frustrations about Common Core to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has bankrolled the effort to establish the national learning standards.
Members of the Badass Teachers Association – a radical left-wing teachers organization that fights virtually all meaningful education reforms – marched on the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle during rush-hour traffic last week shouting slogans like “Kids are not a test score,” and “Billions of dreams! Not billionaire schemes!” to protest the foundation’s involvement with Common Core.
The march was supported by the local Seattle teachers union, and included teachers from other states, who believe the national Common Core standards are killing creativity in the classroom and forcing educators to focus too much on standardized testing, according to KUOW.org, Seattle’s National Public Radio affiliate.
“These standards are squelching creativity in our students and in our teachers. They’re squelching joy in our students. They’re leading to teaching to the test. They’re leading to inappropriate academic environments for young children and special ed children,” Linda Myrick, an elementary teacher from Bellevue, Washington, said at the rally.
Officials with the Gates Foundation, however, contend the national learning standards were developed with teacher input, and officials with the foundation are modifying the standards based on teacher feedback.
The Gates Foundation, which has spent billions to lead the effort to nationalize education standards, also urged states to hold off on linking teacher evaluations to student test scores on Common Core tests until educators have adapted to the standards, Vicki Phillips, Gates Foundation’s director of education, told KUOW.org.
“We’ve shifted some of our strategy as a result. We’ve shifted some of the tools and supports. In fact, we’ve been co-designing a lot of those things both with teachers and based on what teachers tell us,” Phillips said.
Regardless, educators, parents, lawmakers and taxpayers across the country are coming to the realization that the federally backed Common Core standards likely are not in the best interest of students, and are raising a variety of concerns – from the intrusive student data mining linked to the standards, to the nonsensical approach to math, to an increase in federal control over local curriculum decisions.
The Badass Teachers Association is among a growing chorus of Americans coming out against Common Core, though BTA is most concerned with perpetuating the union line that poverty and a lack of education funding are to blame for the country’s continued educational decline.
The group is correct that Common Core is bad news for public schools, but it’s a lack of teacher accountability combined with unnecessary unionized labor expenses and work rules that’s dragging down achievement.
The Gates Foundations’ backpedaling on Common Core – warning that states should hold off on applying test results to teacher decisions – is a clear sign that the backlash against the national standards is gaining steam.
Several states have already opted to ditch Common Core, and it’s likely more will follow suit as parents, teachers and others continue to realize that there are more drawbacks to the program than there are benefits.