We are forgetting that the Gospel is the solution. We too often treat the Gospel as a side issue, even though the current buzz states the Gospel is central. The questions we are asking right now is how do we live justly? The cycle of … Continue reading Lost, stuck, and the way out
As a society we are pontificating about how to stop school violence. The focus is on shootings at the moment, but there are other forms of harm that are rampant in our schools. In these ‘debates’ the question is often given, “What are your solutions?!” The reality is there is a cost of stealing the soul of childhood from our kids. Shootings, bullying, drug abuse, etc. are symptoms of soul robbery. I humbly recommend the following to help restore childhood. I admit this is very boy focus, as that is where the biggest issues exist.
More art. More play.
As both of these dropped over the course of the last 30 years, look at what also increased. True, this could be correlation not causation, but I doubt that. Art & play help kids process, socialize, and learn. It’s a big part in how they learn to interact with the world they live in. Maybe if we stopped robbing what is the soul of being kids, they may not be maladjusted adults. Over the last 27 years I’ve seen a massive drop in kids abilities for imaginative play and also a drop in their ability to get along with their peers. Art gets increasingly dropped as it’s viewed as non-essential, but it’s a huge part in how we process and communicate. Art is very essential to being human.
Change the narrative on marriages. Champion fatherhood.
The break down of family is a significant contributor to mental health and violence. We are reaping the costs of a coupe generations of broken families and fatherless homes. We need a fresh narrative on marriage that sees its joys and delights. That it can be done, healthy, and amazing. We need dads who are passionate about their families. And we need to view both of those things as good, ideal even. Children are a reflection of us. If they’re more violent, bullying, and destructive, we need to do a better job modeling.
End organized sports for kids. Allow sparing.
Back in the sandlot days kids had to figure out the rules and how to manage play. They created games and had to figure out how to play well together. Yes fights and arguments often happened. Failure is part of learning. What free play allowed was learning interpersonal dynamics. Sparing was a concept used in the summer camp world. It’s play where boys rough house. Dodge ball and other like games were part of this. Yes, it was a dominance and honor thing. Yes fights broke out and people got hurt. But we learned from failure and it helped teach how to manage anger, frustration, aggression, etc. Overly programmed overly protective aspects robbed kids of essential life lessons.
Allow danger. Build steps to manhood.
I remember reading an article that raised the question if we are protecting out kids too much. That they’re losing the ability to weigh the consequences of their actions by not engaging in dangerous endeavors. No one is arguing for negligence, but learning how to manage danger is important. Robbing people of failure can lead to robbing them of success. There was a time when kids could openly play with guns, like cops and robbers. In this kids are processing aspects of justice, human interaction, problem solving, etc. As danger and gun play has decreased, looked at what has also increased. Steps to manhood is another critical need. Many cultures have ceremony that signifies the end of childhood and start of adulthood. Part of this was the understanding that one must mature and become a man. (yes, we need this for women as well.) The cost of the egalitarianism movement is that we sacrificed manhood and have too many boys who can shave. Or worse, they’re aimless not knowing what to do.We are discovering that is dangerous for society.
Let kids be kids
All the above relate to things that have wrecked the soul of childhood. All the things above lead to discussions on how we can bring it back. They are not immediate solutions, but they will have immediate impact. If we followed through on them years ago they’d be in place now. We cannot be shocked by todays outcomes after we’ve essentially robbed kids of their childhood. Let them chase butterflies, get muddy. Let dads culturally be heroes again. Let romance be a husband and wife walking hand in hand in the sunset years of their life. Let kids be kids.
Many different things in our society seem to have a common thread: Entitlement. This is a far cry from mere rights or exercising one’s rights. It even moves beyond can vs should into the realm of demand. Entitlement is the superhero of selfishness. It ejects logic and common sense and only seeks it own, to the detriment of others. Entitlement begs this question: Have we become a society of overgrown preschoolers?
Entitlement in politics. Solution: Attack the problem not people.
In recent months I’ve seen people destroyed for merely defending a political figure… by the same people who believe bullying is bad and that people should be accepted for who they are. We see this happening on a larger scale in the news as well. The glaring hypocrisy is baffling as people cry out for our ability to get along, or the dismal culture of our politics. Here’s a solution, stop attacking people and start focusing on the issues. Move beyond platitudes of political viewpoints into the depth of actual issues. Freedom of speech doesn’t equate to slander, libel, etc. We also have the right to remain silent, to listen, and to understand before being understood. This happens when we focus on attacking the problem and not the person.
Entitlement in public service. Solution: Just say thanks.
In recent months I’ve seen public servants taken advantage of, and I’ve seen public servants act as tyrants. Public servants are part of our community. They’re our neighbors. Public servants are not our slaves or our employees. While they work for our benefit, there is a tone of humility and appreciation we should have towards them. We should view them as partners. Be appreciative while dealing with your frustrations. At the same time, public servants are not kings. Power tripping or demanding homage misses the glory of public service, which is to humbly serve your community. While it is ashamed some are taken for granted, sometimes not being noticed means a job well done. Gratefulness goes a long way.
Entitlement in the marketplace. Solution: Be civilized, we’re not barbarians.
Black Friday news demonstrates this point well. Too often we forget where we came from. A BIG thing we can learn from other cultures is the need to SLOW DOWN AND RELAX! We all get that your time is important, but will the person who never made a mistake please raise their hand? If we want to be listened to and served well, do not others in the room deserve that same treatment? Too often we see people flipping out, going overboard, and generally getting sue happy. The key to being civilized is truly treating others the way you want to be treated. This includes how you want to be treated when you make a mistake or are overwhelmed.
Entitlement in the culture. Solution: Remember its not about you.
It’s not about you. You are not the center of the universe. You have a right to speak, but you also have a right to listen. Your have a right to pursue happiness, you also have the right to work hard when things don’t go your way. You have a right to be served, but also a right to be patient. You have a right to be cared for, but also a right to sacrifice. You have a right to be thanked, but also the right to be grateful for the ability to bless others. While you should take care of yourself, others have the right that you do the same towards them. Living in a civilized community only works if you realize its not about you.
The bottom line:
Entitlement is one of the worst prisons to be in. It is a cancer so malignant that it breeds chaos, injustice, abuse, and hate. At the end of the day entitlement forms you into a lonely tyrant lacking any joy or peace. Perhaps it shouldn’t be culture we are frustrated with, but rather the person we see in the mirror each morning. Jesus gives a way out of this mess. While he rightfully was entitled to all, he gave that up. Love, humility, and servanthood will get more done then entitlement ever will. If Jesus demanded entitlement, we’d all be in Hell. Perhaps true freedom isn’t in demanding our rights, but instead giving up our rights is the service of others.
To protest or not protest? An idol or not an idol? It seems the flag of our country is a debated item these days. The freedom of speech means we can protest. That phrase is often repeated. As is the often repeated statements of lament on issues of oppression. What then is the flag? I’ve debated this question in my mind for quite some time as a person who is frustrated with the situation in our country. The conclusion I’ve come to is the flag is us, you and me.
Oppressor or freedom fighter?
Those protesting the flag point to the oppression that has and is happening in our country. But they are not the only people under the flag. Our country almost wasn’t a country because of slavery. It was a bitter debate. State boundaries, underground rail road, a war, etc. demonstrate those who fought for America’s truest ideal: freedom. At a moment in history, other than the bible, people stated that people are free. Sadly, but not abnormally, it takes time for such a dramatic change to infiltrate all of society. Our country is incredibly young.
Idol or living gravestone?
The pushback on those defending the flag is the flag is an idol. For sure that is true for some, but I doubt it is the majority. Relatively few things should be consider so sacred we protect them. I consider the flag one of those things. For many the flag is a gravestone. For all our nations ills, and we have plenty, many have died for us. In over a decade of war, this aspect of the flag is all to real. Bashing the flag is akin to smashing gravestones.
Rights or civility?
The protesting of the flag is heralded as utilizing one’s rights. I questions whether it is the civil course of action to take. As one has a right to do something, it does not mean one should. Radical cultural transformation occurs when we lay down our rights. It happens when we radically serve and act civil. It happens when we find ways to communicate respectfully. Why? Because it is a lot easier to win friends or beneficiaries over to your cause than your enemies. Polarizing actions do just that. In regards to the flag, it’s hard to gain an audience you’re trying to influence by insulting them first.
Absent or present?
Our country already has forums to address grievances, and to work for better communities. The more I ask around the more I hear a consistent answer: no, they do not. My question is simply, do people show up and get involved in township meetings or city council meetings. I am asked why I don’t participate in protests. The issue is being present where it matters. More and more I’m becoming convinced that protesting is stupid if you really want change. Get involved and be present if you truly want change. History is made by those who show up. I’ve been to many meetings, and the chairs are often empty.
All have sinned…
Our country is new. As a student of history I’ve found one consistent pattern: Oppression, bigotry, and slavery is the norm throughout history. There is not an ancestral group that hasn’t been tyrannical to someone. And if a culture is found that has not, chances are they just never had the opportunity to. All cultures on all our inhabited continents have waged war, fought, and oppressed. It is the story of the human race. The grand exception is a moment in history men under oppression came to the conclusion that people are born free. As with you and me, seldom when we realize a truth do our whole lives and thinking match up to our ideals.
The bottom line:
The flag is us. We are not a perfect country nor did we start out perfect. We did start with a profound truth: People are to be free. This foundational principle created a massive struggle on what a free society looks like. It created the struggle on what it means that all are born free. As a young nation we have yet to live out fully our ideal of freedom. It does not mean that ideal is void or that freedom was only a buzz word. When we disrespect the flag we really disrespect ourselves. We may have the right to protest it, but our noblest sensibilities should dictate we shouldn’t. Our ideal is to be one nation where all are born free. Such an ideal stands against the tides of human history and propensity. For as one stands in protest of the flag because of oppression, remember that given the opportunity you and your ancestors would oppress as well, and have done so. The flag is us, our struggle and our highest ideal.
Let us change the discussion from navel gazing at ‘the why’ of our problems and look to solutions. One sentence on the why of the “church” problems: Unbiblical thinking combined with lack of thought and theology leads to poor discernment and a mess. Now that the problem is out of the way, we can stop reading numerous church is blah blah blah articles. A wise professor drilled three concepts that will help us overcome: Think. Judge. Redeem.
Proverbs teaches us to be wise is to be godly. Ephesians 5&6 teaches us to be godly is to be wise. In Ephesians 4 as well as Romans 12 the Spirit points directly at the life of the mind. Christianity must work in the midst of suffering and chaos of our current world. And it does. Our fear stems from a lack of thought. Reason and faith are not opposed to one another. Our devotional life must ponder the deep questions of life as we study the Bible. Renewing our mind is a critical aspect to worship. Jesus did say we will not only worship in spirit but also in truth.
God is the source of all truth. In our current reality there is evil and suffering in the world. The question we then need to ask is how to we discern good form evil? Developing the mind is for the pragmatic result of discerning between good and evil, and between better and best. It is to, as Jesus stated, be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. This level of discernment is expected of us as Christians. (Read Hebrews 5:11-14)
Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. The world is not a mere reference to people, but all creation as well. As we discern truth from error we must answer the question of how to redeem it. As Paul states, redeeming the time for the days are evil. How can we take an object that is depraved, discern the truth of it, and then use such for God’s glory? We are not to live life as a great waiting room for heaven. We are to engage in life and assist in the process of making it new in anticipation of Jesus return. This takes courage.
Lights. Trees. Action.
Think. John talks about Jesus being the light of the world. Judge. Martin Luther, a pastor in Germany, is faced with the paganism of the people he is trying to reach. One pagan ritual was bringing in evergreen trees to celebrate the winter solstice. The people needed to move away from false religion and instead focus on Christ. Redeem. The solution was to add lights to the evergreen tree to represent Jesus as the light of the world. A tradition once tied to paganism is renewed to a symbol of an incredible truth.
Act, don’t react.
We react negatively when our mind and discernment lacks development. Worse, we act in fear. Developing the mind is a critical spiritual discipline. Discernment is essential if we are to not only speak the gospel but also live it. Redemption is a critical role we play as ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Developing the mind does not take away from faith. Truly, developing the mind bolsters the reasonableness and truthfulness of the gospel.
The bottom line:
Developing the life of the mind is a solution to help the church radiate the truth of the gospel, bless our culture, and act with gracious courage.
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
- 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
- 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes
- 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home
Fatherless homes make up nearly 22% of American children. A father in every home will not eliminate crime, but it would not hurt. An involved and time invested father in every home, that would radically change the country. A life without fathers would be catastrophic, and the issue is growing not shrinking. So, here is the solution, if you’re a father, work hard at being a dad.
First step to being a dad is to find a good, godly dad and learn from him
Modeling is critical as being a dad is something that is caught. Just being in the presence of a dad who is active in the life of his children will give one great insight. Interact with this dad and learn all that you can from him. There is no such thing as the perfect dad, but there is such thing as godly examples. By networking with other dads, a growing dad can gain insight, accountability and skill in raising children. Dave Simmons, in his Dad the Shepherd Series, calls this an e-team (Encouragement- team). This is a group of three to five dads who hold each other accountable and learn from each other as they work through how to be a dad. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Second step to being a dad is to be a part of the body of Christ
The family and the church should not be at odds with each other. My dad’s three goals in my life made church a natural connection to meet those goals, where else could I effectively learn the Bible, discernment and service at the same time? Serving the Lord was the highest ideal growing up. My parents had missionaries over, pastors over, speakers over, ministry teams over, Christian musicians over, Bible studies, etc. They did this to serve Jesus. People from all over the world that call Christ their savior celebrated Christmas at one time at my parent’s house. The mission of the Woznek family was to serve the church because that meant serving God. Get your family to serve together.
Third step to being a dad is to be intentional
My dad had set three clear goals for me, and he held vigorously to them. The goals set for me were simple and guided the decisions he made. My dad did not sub-contract my life to other institutions; he used them to accomplish the goals he set. I wanted to serve at a camp I spent much time at during my summers, but dad would not allow it. This was a great frustration to me. Serving every summer at one camp would limit other experiences I could have. That decision was invaluable. While serving in various ministries, I had multiple experiences to draw wisdom, far more than had I only served at one place. It fit in with my dad’s goal, and it enriched the times I did serve at my desired camp. The way dad used other institutions in my life to reach certain goals produced another attribute to my life.
Fourth step to being a dad is talk talk talk
De-briefing was a regular part of my life. If a dad is not intentional in how he builds his children, debriefing is a very difficult thing to do. The de-brief is the ultimate indicator that involvement is taking place. My dad and I talked about everything. This happened because my dad started when I was young. In my later years I would voluntarily talk with my dad about the days events, there was no “How was school today.” Joys, victories and practical jokes were all shared. De-briefs, however, were also hard when dealing with failure. Without fail a discussion would occur as to why discipline measures were taken. Discipline was talking. Dad would walk me through the choice that was made, and the consequences of that choice. This taught me how to think and how to think biblically.
The bottom line:
The fifth step is the most joyful and the most painful: my dad let me go and became a cheerleader and resource to me. While his goals were met, it is never easy to let one graduate to adulthood. The fifth step would never have had happened if the others were not followed. If I need advice, or to bounce things off someone, dad is there.
A growing trend are those who disdain discussions of politics. Sadly, this is why politics is caustic. I am asserting that the avoidance of politics is a major problem, for Christians as well. This mindset costs us liberty and truth. Political avoidance allows us to chuck our discernment, life of thought and even empathy in exchange for the illusion of a good life. We need to be more politically astute.
If people knew…
While attending a leadership conference in Washington DC a democrat chief of staff stated, “If the American people truly understood how things work we would not get away with all that we do.” The purpose of the conference was to educate and help people to better understand. The implication at the conference is there is an inherent system of corruption. Playing off the ignorance of people should be unsettling to us.
Politics is truly local
The complexities of getting something done is profound. The hoops to jump through at various levels of government at times is absurd. We invest too much focus on national or federal politics and not enough on state or local politics. For example, much issues people have with Common Core is actually a state vs school board issue, not a Federal take over issue. Often what frustrates educators and then parents is changes made in state capitals, not DC. Who are your state representatives? Don’t know who they are? There is a key problem.
For civil government to work, character and morality are essential. The result of losing character is the mess we have today. For example, many are against vaccinations. Much of this comes from a distrust of various institutions and government itself. Another example is the litigious society that we live in. Much of the vitriol in politics is a result of a loss of character. This is where religion plays a critical role in the life of a society. It’s presence in the public square is essential. A secular society in inherently unstable, as is state run religion.
Politics is determined by those who show up. Top down approaches rarely do well. Top down is great for emergency management, but it is lousy for societal change. Again, politics is profoundly local. Much of the injustice we see stems from not showing up where it counts. Politics is a reflection of us and the reflection of injustice demonstrates out absence. Protesting is a sign of laziness where we didn’t show up. Mobs rarely lead to justice.
God created man to be free. While I orient my life on the Bible as the way and truth and life, that should not be forced on anyone. In a free society there will be many and even opposing views. This also means that those from a secular viewpoint should not impose their views as well. Too many people are trying to get the government to do their bidding. This inevitably leads to tyranny, whether state religion run societies or fully secular societies. (Even secularists have their fundamentalists.)
The bottom line:
We need to be engaged in politics. A professor drilled into out heads the process: Think. Judge. Redeem. We need tor read and study issues more broadly. Judge the issues on their own merits. Finally, see if the issue should be discarded or redeemed for good. If, like many, you hate politics, remember this: We the people, we the problem. It’s time we show up, for politics at best is living at peace with our neighbors. That can only happen if you show up.
Educators cannot say this, but I can: Parents, you and I need to up our game! We need to do the hard work that makes great education possible. We need to lead our families to help those who are disadvantaged to do the same. No law, amount of money or education system can overcome our lack of engagement or community involvement. Parental engagement is not the norm based on my interactions with educators from many states.
The number one problem with education is not education. I am fully convinced that culture is chasing down the wrong issue. Parents are key. In my last post on defending Common Core State Standards (CCSS) I will address what is the real issue: parents. This post may sting a bit. I would rather our national education discussion be on family involvement instead of arguing against CCSS.
A wise teacher once stated there are three things a teacher cannot change: 1) A child’s IQ, 2) A child unwilling to learn, and 3) Parental apathy. A child with a 70 IQ will not perform the same as a child with an IQ of 130. That doesn’t mean one child will not have a profound impact on society, but it is a reality of academic performance. A teacher cannot force a student to learn. At the end of the day a student who refuses to learn wont. A teacher has no control over what goes on in the home. Teachers cannot change parental apathy. Key navigating this: parents.
Many of the argument against CCSS already existed. Standardized testing, curriculum decisions, Federal overreach, issues with math education, etc existed prior to CCSS being implemented. For my conservative friends, I am confident you would add teacher unions to this list. Many of these issues exploded in 2001 with the advent of No Child Left Behind. There are serious issues that need addressing. These issues are related to CCSS, but existed before CCSS. Stop CCSS and we’re left with the problems. Key to changing this: parents.
I sense we are uninformed on eduction
I thought I was informed on education, then I spent a year volunteering in a school. I was not as informed as I thought. Over the course of two years, especially this last year, I have seen remarkable things by some sweet teachers. I saw them have great days and incredibly challenging days. Here is the conclusion I reached: Education is not dry cleaning. We do not drop off our kids and return to pick up a cleaned and improved product. Education is fundamentally a community partnership and we, as parents, too often drop the ball.
A glimpse into schools
Often people ask why I support CCSS and why I argue for teachers. That is not the norm for someone more conservative minded, let alone a pastor. Let me give you a glimpse of what I see based on watching some classy friends do their job:
- Teachers work long hours and weeks that run almost non-stop, except for the summer. For the summer there is much work to prepare for the long work hours and weeks that almost run non-stop. During the school year teachers often don’t have a life. They are not lazy.
- Teachers are continually working on their trade and work towards advanced degrees. They are trained, evaluated, retrained, re-evaluated and this process continues. They collaborate, they self-initiate learning and they love it. Teachers are not dumb.
- Teachers struggle with the same things you and I do. Some struggle with their marriages, some with dying friends or family. They have good days and bad days, and like all want to know they are making a difference. Teachers are not different from us.
- Teachers are frustrated when they see a student underperform when they know they can do better. They are frustrated when a struggling student is doing great but others see it as not good enough. They are frustrated with the great middle that need time and investment too.They are frustrated when they, the teacher, drop the ball. Teachers are not content.
- Teachers are scared and waiting for when goal posts (made by people untrained int heir field) are moved… again. They are often scared at interacting with us as parents, because the trend is see them as the problem. They are more and more scared for theirs and their students safety. They are scared about the family life of some students. They are scared about approaches to teacher accountability that actually undermines and not help. Teachers are scared that they expend all this time an energy for nothing. Teachers are not secure.
- Teachers are classy. Despite all this they smile at students. They champion students. They push students. They give to their community- on top of their work. They go the extra mile for their peers- on top of their work. They improve their classrooms, curriculum, etc out of their own pocket. Teachers are not slaves, but they are heroes.
Parents: Want to improve education?
- Parents, we must stop treating our kids as pets and our schools like a dry cleaning service. Get involved. Being informed does not equal involvement. Be the parent: play, read, argue, champion, cry, cheer, get thrown up on, etc with your kids. When your kids head to school remember it is your child’s job and not their babysitter.
- Parents, we must listen, trust, and allow our children to fail. When schools/teachers inform us, listen and ask questions. If you have no question, ask: “What I’m hearing you say is…., correct?” Trust that the time and investment the teacher made in their career means they are a professional and know what they’re doing. Meaning: when a teacher approaches you about your child assume the best and focus on your child’s performance and not the teacher’s. A teacher works WITH you not FOR you.
- Parents, encourage your child AND their teacher. Write a note out of the blue, go out of your way to interact with them. Ask how they are doing. Share humorous stories about your child, or even concerns you have when they’re struggling.
- Parents, volunteer at least an hour a week in school. It is hard to understand education without being there. Society’s promotion of volunteerism often leaves avenues for you to take work time and volunteer in your community.
- Parents, seek to understand then be understood. I find often the goal of educators and parents are the same, but we, the parents, often don’t listen. When your school has a school improvement meeting be there!
- Parents, when you do the above and there is a serious issue you need to address, you will be addressing partners and friends who will hear you. You will know how to interact with them best. There are bad teachers, but I’d submit that is not the majority. I find most people have enough critics but what they lack is cheerleaders. That’s a choice we as parents have to make. Issues from cheerleaders are heard louder than those of critics.
- Parents, our homes hold the key to our schools’ success. Work on building a healthy and safe home. Help your neighbors do the same. Why? No one learns or works well when they are stressed out. No education system can control this but it is THE issue effecting education. Healthy homes, healthy kids, healthy schools.
The bottom line:
I support CCSS because my education partners say it is a helpful tool. I support CCSS because I took time to listen and understand my education friends. Common Core makes sense. There are issues that my educator partners and I want addressed. These issues are related to CCSS but were not started by it and will likely continue unless we as parents step up. Why? The key to education is the home. You and I hold the key to great education.
I support CCSS for three key reasons. First, I believe national standards are a prudent measure in an increasingly mobile society. Second, I believe that such standards should put local districts and teachers in control of curriculum decisions. Third, I believe that the main problem in education is a lack of parental engagement, understanding, and effective support. If opponents are successful in stopping CCSS, the three issues are still in play. I often ask my proverbial question: You get rid of CCSS, then what do you do? In this post I will be addressing how CCSS puts teachers in control of curriculum choices.
Education is locally controlled
CCSS is not a Federal curriculum being forced on educators. Reports against Common Core are often poor curriculum choices. While sitting on a schools Quality Assurance Review, the conversation on certain curriculums delighted me. The challenge they were working through was having curriculum options while having a consistent vocabulary & ‘language.’ The teachers understood they were different in their gifting, that various classes may learn differently, and they need to have consistent communication with each other and parents. This situation demonstrates this:
- CCSS is standards not curriculum. There were multiple curriculum options that support CCSS. Some curriculums were rejected, others were accepted. They investigated the curriculum choices based on data and performance. Much of this done over and above the teachers classroom work.
- CCSS did not Federally mandate how the teachers were to work. Through collaboration, understanding who they are as teachers, understanding their students via data, the teachers of my local school district made curriculum decisions that were best for the students. The curriculum choices were local, made by the school district in conjunction with teachers.
- As a parent, the district informed me of and sought input in the process. In this case through being on the Quality Assurance Review process. This review is part of a broader process to help the school district maintain system(district) wide accreditation via a third party. (They could just go through the state for accreditation, but the district chose a harder standard to achieve.)
Common Core arguments are red herrings
The biggest thrust I see against CCSS is Federal overreach. The issue of Federal and even state government intrusion is a vital one and one that educators often share. For example, Federal overreach in the school lunch program left a mess. There is concern that the same thing can happen with CCSS. The arguments against CCSS are a distraction from real issues related to but not a result of CCSS. We must deal with real issues and not be distracted by CCSS. Why?
News Flash: Congress tells Tiger Woods how to play Golf!
Education is becoming a field where people who are not trained in education are telling trained advanced degree educators how to do their job. Imagine congress or state legislators passing laws to instruct Tiger Woods how he should play golf? (His game lately needs some help!) We would think that is crazy: 1) They’re not PGA professionals 2) It’s not their role. 3) Just because you play gold doesn’t mean you know how to coach or play professionally. This is exactly what we as a society do with educators. Arguments against CCSS are a distraction from legitimate issues with education.
Another concern raised with CCSS is data mining. Again, this is a distraction. Everyone of my teachers data mined. It’s called a report card. As a society we want our schools to perform well, but how is that done without data? As a country we want our schools to be competitive with other countries. That requires data. I am at a lost on how to educate without collecting data while also determining performance and competitiveness. For example, the big issue with GM is a problem in how data was mined or not mined regarding an ignition switch. Not all data collection is inherently evil. We don’t seem to mind data mining of sports performance…
CCSS and data collection give local school districts guide posts on curriculum choices. CCSS is a collaborative effort to establish consistency between schools. CCSS at the same time allows the art of teaching to thrive and local control of curriculum choices to exist. Though I am fully in support of intuitive choices, collecting and wisely using data is essential to solid education. Analytical approaches to things are not in opposition to intuition. The fight against CCSS and data goes against helpful guideposts. It comes across to educators as “we want you to do your job but not have the needed guide posts to do it.” This sentiment is bad in parenting, leading and educating.
Educator’s mission is to reach in retrospect the goal posts constantly change before them by the government. Being a part of my school districts review process, I learned of the infamous writing goal problem. As the state had set a standard that triggered the district’s response and everything was in place, the state moved the goal posts voiding the work. This left educators with a crazy time frame to deal with the new goal post. This was not a unique experience to educators. Being professionals, they got the job done. As a parent, I was and am very frustrated, but not at the teachers. We are making educators task impossible.
Many, not all, of my educators friends are for CCSS because it is helpful. There is work that needs to be done to improve upon CCSS and to communicate what CCSS is, especially in math. But the issue of Federal overreach (no child, race to the top, etc), States moving the goal posts (like previous example) and inconsistency between school districts existed long before Common Core. CCSS helps with consistency, but the issue of government overreach is solved by parents. Defeating CCSS doesn’t solve the real issues, and leaves unresolved an important issue.
The bottom line: Educators real mission is…
Teachers want to teach. Let us stop focussing on clearly bad examples of teachers or curriculum choices. Focus on the majority of teachers who want to help our kids think and achieve their dreams. The issues of standardized testing and government overreach are real, but CCSS is not the problem. Rather than chase after the red herring we made CCSS, listen to trained professionals who are also our neighbors.
CCSS are standards and not curriculum. Local school districts and teachers are fully in charge of curriculum decisions and CCSS keeps the art of teaching alive in the classroom. The viewpoint that CCSS is a Federal take over of education does not match the reality of how education works. Yes, Federal and even State overreach is an issue and a concern that educators share. Using CCSS as a figured head is in poor taste. I will discuss in the next post the essential thing needed : Engaged parents partnering with educators.