Thank you for taking an interest in our public schools. These days it seems like everyone, including journalists and politicians, are voicing their opinions about the Common Core and the state of public education. After all, we have all been to school at one time or another. However, endorsing the Common Core or any other education initiative is really the job of the professionals in the classrooms. Wouldn’t we be outraged if journalists or other lay people endorsed or discredited a medical protocol for, say, the treatment of breast cancer or prostate surgery? It would be clear to all of us to “leave it to the medical professionals.” Why, then, don’t we trust teachers? Suffice it to say that the media has been complicit in supporting the false narrative of “bad teachers” — with the recent Time Magazine cover with it’s headline “Rotten Apples.” These media reports ignore the harsh realities such as the effect of child poverty on our classrooms. It is startling that, at 22 percent, we have the highest child poverty rate of any country in the developed world. http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty. html

If Gina Hamilton had done her homework (in her Dec. 31, 2014 column), she would have learned of the outcry from early childhood professionals over the grossly inappropriate Common Core standards for young children. Just this week, Defending the Early Years Project published a report titled “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.” (http://deyproject.org/tag/nancycarlsson paige)

The intense pressure on teachers and children caused by the “teach to the test” culture of No Child Left Behind, the Obama/Duncan competitive grant scheme called “ Race to the Top,” and now the Common Core State Standards, has stifled creativity in the classroom and created a sense of failure in so many otherwise bright, capable children.

Teachers know better and can do better. Rather than being forced to compete with one another for scarce funding while reacting to the latest testing mandate , classroom teachers need the professional freedom to collaborate and solve the real problems facing our children, our schools, and our communities. As teachers, our voices count and we speak not only for ourselves but for the children who have no political voice. It is my great hope that the United States Senate will reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) without the jargon and mandated standardized testing.

Robin Brooks
K-6 Art, Lincoln Elementary
School
Topsham