An 8th grade science teacher at a Long Island, New York public school is refusing to administer Common Core tests, comparing the state-mandated exams to “child abuse,” The Long Island Press reports.
Comsewogue School District teacher Beth Dimino belongs to the “Teachers Of Conscience Movement,” founded by a group of public school teachers in New York City who identify as “conscientious objectors” and say they’re concerned about “‘market-based” education reform and the “standardization of public education,” according to the Press. The Common Core sets national standards for maths and English and involves a series of mathematics and English language arts/literacy tests at the end of each academic year.
The standards have been controversial both for their perceived infringement on states’ rights by the federal government, which established the Common Core, and their implementation. Critics say the standards use confusing language and overly complicated methods to teach students.
“I believe that it is child abuse. I believe that giving these tests to my students makes me culpable in the abuse of children and I can no longer do that,” Dimino told the Press.
The local newspaper reports that Dimino has the support of Comsewogue superintendent Joe Rella, who also opposes the Common Core tests. Here’s why the two educations are fighting back against the state-mandated standards, according to the Post:
Dimino and Rella harbour a host of reasons why they’re so opposed to Common Core, ranging from what they deem as a lack of focus and an erroneous substitution for actual hands-on, in-the-classroom, traditional teaching, to myriad issues with the actual exams themselves, which utilise problem-solving and reason-centric approaches to not only answering but understanding subject material questions.
In a position paper — formatted as an open letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña — the Teachers of Conscience echo many of the complaints Dimino and Rella make about the Common Core:
We have patiently taught under the policies of market-based education reforms and have long since concluded that they constitute a subversion of the democratic ideals of public education. Policymakers have adopted the reforms of business leaders and economists without consideration for the diverse stakeholders whose participation is necessary for true democratic reform. We have neglected an important debate on the purpose and promise of public education while students have been subjected to years of experimental and shifting high-stakes tests with no proven correlation between those tests and future academic success.
What seems to be at the heart of the teachers’ opposition, though, is the sense that they were not included in the design of the Common Core standards, a subject they should arguably know more about than any other group.
“I’m not telling you that I’m opposed to raising standards, or making standards better,” Dimino said to the Press. “What I’m opposed to is not having any educators be part of the process of making those standards better.”
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