The Issue: The Common Core curriculum and tests that are being introduced in New York schools.
Responses to Post editorial, Spotlight on Failure http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/spotlight_on_failure_q7pLe7qSw4R5mMhLTnUU0H
The Post argues that the common core standards and tests are necessary because our students are doing so poorly: “the facts of failure are becoming impossible to ignore.Last year, 79.3% of public high-school grads who enrolled in CUNY’s community colleges had to take remedial classes in math, reading or writing because they failed basic qualification exams. These 10,000 students had to score a 35 on pre-algebra and 40 on algebra tests to “pass” — and thereby escape remediation.
In any other universe, that would be an ‘F.’”
My response, Published in the New York Post, April 24, 2013
The Post’s complaint about high school grads not being ready for college (“Spotlight on failure,” April 21) is part of a proud tradition that goes back over 100 years.
More than half of Harvard freshmen failed the entrance exam in 1874. As a result of an analysis of essays written in 1894, the Harvard Board of Overseers criticized high school writing teachers for the poor performance of the students. In 1930, Thomas Biggs of Teachers College wrote that high school English classes resulted in written English that was “in a large fraction of cases shocking in their evidence of inadequate achievement.”
If we believe these reports, our high school students were terrible in 1874 and have been getting even worse ever since. Another interpretation is that there has been no decline in performance, that we have always been expecting too much, and are, for some reason, over-eager to scold students and their schools.
The Post also published these letters, one agreeing that students are doing poorly, and one attacking unions. All three letters are from outside New York.
Those who are on the front lines of the education system in this city have known all along that our children have been failing miserably for quite some time (“Spotlight on Failure,” Editorial, April 21).
The histrionics coming from the teachers’ union regarding testing is no more than a massive coverup of its own poor performance.
One would imagine that after finding out that our children rank so poorly among other nations in math and science, someone might care. This is not so in New York, where teachers only care about perks and pensions, not kids.
I think that unions can serve an important function, but over the years I have derived a pretty good test for determining whether or not a policy makes sense.
If a policy provokes loud union opposition, like that of Richard Iannuzzi and the state teachers union, it is probably worthwhile.
Common Core is one such example. We must assess a problem before we can begin to solve it.
Teachers and the unions that control them must demonstrate with more than lip service that they have the best interests of our children at heart.