• In Other Words

Alan Sitomer Asks for More Than Common Core Army Chow

by Alan Sitomer
July 11, 2012

Have we commoners in education ever been so collectively deluged with propaganda like this before? Am I the only one who’s already sick of the empty proclamations about so many of these “new and innovative literacy products” which are hitting the market or about to hit the market? Anyone else out there starting to get the sense that educational publishers have collectively lost their common (core) mind?

Okay, so maybe it’s a stretch to presume that many of them had a mind once upon a time in the first place (i.e. see the textbook industry for more information on that subject). But still, ENOUGH ALREADY! Claiming that you are “Common Core aligned” doesn’t mean diddley squat. How about some mention of why you are awesome, great, unique, effective, critical, beneficial, or so on? I mean, nobody markets tomatoes by proclaiming “And we’re FDA approved as edible!”

Time to get off the large fonts in bold face type declaring on your covers like a treasure hunter who’s just found King Tutankhamen’s hidden achievement tomb that “We are Common Core aligned.” If you do a Google search, you’ll discover that “Big whoop, so’s my Aunt Sally’s lesson plan which she just posted free on her blog.”

I guess the only thing driving me more crazy than the publishers perpetually insisting “We’re Common Core aligned” are the people in the world of education who are constantly scrutinizing materials, asking, with pensive, wrinkled foreheads, “Hmm, so is this Common Core aligned?”

Um, hello… we need inquisitions about quality! We need investigations into efficacy! We need people to stand up and demand educational excellence in the materials being offered to our nation’s students and teachers. If the only gatekeeper to curricular adoption is the criminally low bar of “We’re Common Core aligned,” then folks, turn out the lights and break out the moonshine, ’cause we’re all cooked.

Now, I understand that our politicians are simple people who need simple terms to express their simpleton-like ideas. However, where the rubber meets the road of schooling, I also know that there are a lot of folks who have some very keen bowls of grey matter resting on their shoulders. This means we need to elevate the dialogue and demand more. Remember, one of the great fears about Common Core by many was that as a result of its adoption American education would be reduced to a “lowest common denominator, make all the kids into standardized widgets” type of experience for our children.

Personally, I am a fan of the Common Core standards—I’ve said so many times—but people, please. The way most publishers are peddling their goods these days has me fearful that school is going to devolve into something that resembles the high standards maintained by network television in the late 1980s.

In a “grab as many customers as you can” gold rush, I really do wish we’d see someone step to the plate, recognizing that what we all really want is a thoughtful concerto of sophisticated, superior, intelligent, and exceptional academic opportunities spread at our intellectual banquet table. Not Common Core army chow .

[The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the International Reading Association or its Board of Directors.]

Alan Sitomer was named California's 2007 Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an inner-city high school English teacher and former professor in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Alan is a nationally renowned speaker specializing in engaging reluctant readers who received the 2004 award for Classroom Excellence from the Southern California Teachers of English, the 2003 Teacher of the Year honor from California Literacy, the 2007 Educator of the Year award by Loyola Marymount University and the 2008 Innovative Educator of the Year from The Insight Education Group. He’s the author of six young adult novels, three children's picture books, two teacher methodology books, and a classroom curriculum series for secondary English Language Arts instruction called THE ALAN SITOMER BOOK JAM. A Fun Look at Our Serious Work appears quarterly on the Engage/Teacher to Teacher blog.

© 2012 Alan Lawrence Sitomer. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


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