A recent article in the Londonderry Times regarding concerns about the new, Common Core aligned SBAC test contained statements made by Heather Gage, Director of Educational Improvement for the New Hampshire Department of Education. Ms. Gage asserted, “Somehow there’s misinformation about us asking questions regarding social issues, such as gun control and sexual orientation. There’s nothing in the assessment like that”. I agree, these exact questions are probably not part of the test. However, what Heather neglected to mention is the fact that, in The US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology Draft, “ Promoting Grit Tenacity and Perseverance” it is clearly stated that, “ noncognitive factors—and particularly grit, tenacity, and perseverance—should play an essential role in evolving educational priorities.” It also states, “we found common operating principles for designing supportive contexts and evidence that contributing psychological resources can, to a large extent, be taught and cultivated.” I’m not clear on exactly what the intent is here or how it will be implemented. However, if you couple this with the fact that FERPA laws have been weakened and the fact that there has been a shocking lack of transparency regarding Common Core and its associated data collection through SBAC and other means from both the state and federal government, this becomes greatly concerning.
In early February of this year, upon approaching the NH Department of Education myself about my concerns regarding Common Core and SBAC, I was given a link that led me to the works of Linda Darling-Hammond, proponent of using psychometric tests and close friend and colleague of the communist and Weather Underground founder, Bill Ayers. When I approached the NH State BOE regarding these same concerns, I was urged by the board’s chair, Tom Raffio, to acquaint myself with the works of Dave Coleman, head of the College Board and responsible for aligning the new SAT to Common Core. Instead of solid academic research, I was instead given biased information supporting Common Core.
Indeed, we need to be concerned about Common Core’s experimental, one-size-fits-all copyrighted curriculum standards, scripted lessons, untested methods of teaching math, corporations making billions by helping to design and implement this, “ transformation”, high-stakes tests, data mining, and emphasizing test scores which will encourage teaching to the test and inevitably narrow the curriculum. However, what we really need to worry about is the underhanded and undemocratic way that all of this has come about, who is in charge of education in this country and exactly what it is that they are doing.
I have yet to hear of a society that collects personal data on its citizens and uses one-size-fits-all instruction to effectively force “equality” (attempts to force sameness are NOT synonymous with equity) on its masses remain democratic or avoid violating the civil liberties of its citizens.
Diane Rose Sekula
RPCV, Moldova, Former USSR, ’99-01