To the Editor:
As an early childhood educator with 37 years of experience, I am very concerned about the developmental inappropriateness of our Common Core standards for children in Universal Pre-Kindergarten all the way up to third grade.
The “drill and grill” approach to learning not only pushes innovative and play-based learning out of many primary classes, it also goes against everything we have learned about how children’s brains grow and develop.
Put simply, children’s brains are not like adult brains. They continue to grow and change through stages all the way up to adulthood.
Dr. Megan Koschnick’s presentation at Notre Dame University echoed what many early childhood educators, psychologists, pediatricians and researchers have been saying all along. Common Core asks children to behave like adults and get to higher levels of critical thinking when in reality their brains are not “wired” that way.
When the Common Core lead writers excluded some of the best experts in the field of child development, could we expect anything different than the poor results we got?
I would strongly suggest you listen to Dr. Koschnick’s full presentation online as well as read the “Joint statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative” at www.allianceforchildhood.org
As educators, parents and taxpayers struggle to understand the federal government’s Race To The Top initiative and mandates, I would suggest you read Kenneth Mitchell’s informative essay “Federal Mandates on Local Education: Cost and Consequences – Yes It’s a Race, But is it in the Right Direction?” at www.newpaltz.edu/crreo.
In Mr. Mitchell’s report, he states “There are serious challenges to (the Race to the Top) federal program’s validity, and the research upon which it is based. Without substantive validation, New York State and the U.S. taxpayers are funding a grand and costly experiment that has the potential to take public education in the wrong direction, at a time when we need to be more competitive than ever before.”
Please note that the authors of these two reports back up their opinions with solid research in their respective fields of study.
In conclusion, I am very fortunate to work in a school district (Norwood-Norfolk) where tough questions can be asked and administrators hear your concerns with respect and courtesy. I can not “argue” with them when they tell me that the New York State Education Department has the “right” to send us the standards and curriculum that they want taught.
I can only inform you as parents and taxpayers to take a closer look at the “reform movement” in New York State and across the nation.
Please do not be afraid to ask the corporate reformers, politicians and the educational leaders the tough questions.
Remind Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner King that leadership and power does not give them the right to rush through “a political and educational reform agenda” without doing their homework.
Our children and taxpayers deserve much better!
Martha Greene, Massena
Norwood-Norfolk Elementary School teacher