When Kurt Bahr initially introduced House Bill 1490, which would prohibit the implementation of Common Core Standards in Missouri, the main concern was the process through which the standards were developed. The bill, in its original form, would have prevented districts from utilizing the standards as assessment unless authorized. Though perhaps extreme, Bahr effectively prompted conversation about educational policy and assessment procedures.
The excitement of finally “evening the playing field” through Common Core led many school districts to rush implementation. Efforts to revamp curriculum and increase student access to technology have rapidly increased as these districts try to be ahead of the curve. Teachers must suddenly continue to teach to current End of Course exams while simultaneously transitioning to prepare students for a much more rigorous set of standards. Many critics of the bill feared that the passing of HB 1490, which would have voided these efforts, would place an irreparable blow on teacher morale.
Though viewed as a beacon of hope among many individuals, the new standards are raising many substantive questions with critics regarding the creation and implementation of curriculum, as well as the relationship between schools and their communities.
Supporters of HB 1490 claimed the standards were created without sufficient community input (in this case parents and teachers alike) and cited concerns over the lack of available technological resources required for full implementation. Neither of these concerns is shocking.
What I cannot get past is the idea that society feels like they cannot trust the very people trained to educate. The barrage of “suggestions” teachers are given is never-ending. Perhaps because the US requires that each individual receives an education, because each of us has “been there, done that,” we all know best. Because you’ve been in the classroom, you understand the intricacies of teaching. Of tediously creating lesson plans that differentiate to not just two, or three, learning styles, but to at least fifteen different IAPs and IEPs (without isolating the other ten students in the class who are not special needs, of course). Of arriving to work each day to find students waiting outside your door after they have walked in below-zero temperatures wearing well-worn jeans and a sweatshirt as a coat. You understand the feeling of never having a minute to yourself because your classroom is filled with students during literally every minute of the day. You also understand that the contracted work hours end long before the actual work is finished, because, let’s face it–the work is never finished.
Learning is a lifestyle. Learning is leadership. Learning is more than content but less than controversy (because we wouldn’t want to impede upon the parental right to leave a child uninformed and ill-prepared to be a productive member of society).
But you get it. You’ve looked through the looking glass. You’ve seen your teachers in front of the classroom.
If for nothing else, I think Representative Bahr for opening the doors to discussing how curriculum is prepared and implemented. We attempt to teach our students to be critical, so it would be hypocritical to lecture society for taking a close look at an important issue like educational standards. However, educators are professionals; they understand and implement best-practice methods to ensure students will leave the classroom prepared for future endeavors. Trust them. Ask questions, but with kind words rather than a sharp tongue. We are here because we care, not for whatever mirage of perks the media has associated with the teaching profession. The work (and the learning that ensues) never ends.