To the Editor:
I was sadly disappointed by Thomas Toch’s recent Commentary, “Common Core’s Power for Disadvantaged Students” (Oct. 23, 2013).
Mr. Toch simply trotted out common-core advocates’ litany of criticisms of public school teachers. He decries “the simplistic sharing of feelings” when writing is taught. He claims that “educators define their expectations in terms of students’ race and class.” He concludes that we are wrong in placing trust in teachers to have high standards. He thinks this trust is a “ticket back to second-class educational status for many students.”
So what is Mr. Toch’s theory of action—other than shouting “higher standards”? Instead of demeaning teachers, he might review the research about the proven power in actually removing poverty’s well-known barriers to learning. Those barriers occur mostly outside the classroom. (See reports of best practices from the Learning First Alliance and the Broader Bolder Approach.)
In the same issue, Brian Cleary put it best in his Commentary, “Changing the World, One Student at a Time": “I don’t really understand the psychology that makes teachers and parents the scapegoats for so many problems.”
Scapegoating leads us nowhere. Neither does shouting simplistic clichés like “raise the bar.”
The author is a retired educator and a co-founder of the education advocacy group Oregon Save Our Schools. An unedited version of this letter first appeared as on online comment on edweek.org.
A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 2013 edition of Education Week as Reader Decries ‘Scapegoating’ in Common-Core Commentary