Vincent Barrass, a PPEL member, has a guest column in today’s Advertiser. He staunchly defends respecting educators’ special competence in their own field and questions the qualifications of many who pretend to understand the task of educators.
The essay, in its entirety:
Groups supporting Common Core out of their element
In the movie “Network” Peter Finch said a line that has now become immortal: “I’m as mad as hell, and not going to take this anymore.”
Frankly, that’s me, right now — and here’s why.
The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce recently listed its priorities for the legislative session, and among them is its support for Common Core.
If I were to write a manual telling doctors how to operate, people would laugh and doctors would rightfully ignore me. I have not attended medical school, nor received the training a doctor needs.
Yet, organization after organization with little or no educational background think they are experts on education. The Council for a Better Louisiana, Stand for Children Louisiana and the Louisiana Association for Business and Industry, just to name a few, have all published their support for Common Core.
Apparently, merely having attended school or college — or simply having a child — affords everyone a seat at the table to determine the future of education. Worse, everyone listens to these organizations and not the teachers.
I am a highly-qualified teacher with two bachelor’s degrees and a masters in history. I was chosen the Outstanding Sophomore, Junior, and Senior in UL’s College of Education, not to mention the Outstanding Graduate of its 1992 Spring Commencement. I have experience writing curricula and have taught Algebra I and II for 23 years, as well as numerous history and English classes. I am an expert on education — not these various groups.
I have a right to explore the qualifications and biases of every organization that supports Common Core. Have they received money from Bill Gates or any of his organizations? Have they teachers who have implemented the Engage New York curricula that was designed to match Common Core? Have they actually read the poorly-written modules we teachers have received or taken one of their confusing tests? Are they experts in the cognitive abilities of young children and adolescents? I suspect the answers to these questions are a resounding “no.”
And I have upsetting news for these organizations who don’t even bother to explore what is in Common Core: The people who wrote it weren’t experts, either. The 27 authors were mostly test-makers, and none were teachers. Why should I give their handiwork any credibility, when they lack the credentials to even be classroom teachers?
So, should any additional organization wish to herald the need for Common Core, I have these words of advice: Unless they are qualified to speak on the subject, it would be best if they were to stick to their own areas of expertise.
— Vincent P. Barras is a Lafayette educator.