Friday, April 26, 2013

Representative Tom McMillin Seeks to Dumb Down Michigan


Tom McMillin’s wrong headed and dangerously misguided legislation seeks to ensure and enshrine underachievement for Michigan’s school children.  His actions to subvert the common core and the next generation smarter balanced assessment is based on misinterpretations and manipulations designed to promote his own narrow agenda.  

McMillin’s objections expose a fundamental flaw in his knowledge about how and why the common core was developed; or perhaps it just pulls the curtain away from his close association with charter school operators. What better way to promote charters, than to help kill public schools? After years of lagging behind nearly every state in graduation requirements, Michigan moved to raise the bar in 2006. The framework of the Common Core and the implementation of improved testing tools helps support that higher bar for all students. McMillin’s actions run counter to the objective of dismantling quality public eduction.   

Some facts about the common core. It is not a perfect framework (nothing is), but the CCS does support higher CORE standards and the subsequent achievement expectations. Lost in the rhetoric is that the standards are CORE standards, not a predigested package of fully prescribed material. There are thick layers around the core which are controlled at the state and local levels. The common core is research based and provides the scaffolding for State and Local School Boards to build around that core:

  1. The standards were developed through the work of 48 states 
  2. The standards emphasize core competencies -- which means there is plenty of content controlled locally which will surround that core
  3. Michigan signed up to help develop the smarter balanced assessment. I’d like to highlight this fact; MICHIGAN WANTS TO HELP DEVELOP THE ASSESSMENT TOOL (i.e., have input, help shape, design, and ensure the tools work for Michigan).
  4. Leading the Smarter Balanced Assessment develop are:
    1. State Superintendents of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, MICHIGAN, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, N. Carolina, Oregon, S. Carolina, S. Dakota, Vermont, Washington, W. Virginia, Wisconsin as well as support from Alaska, N. Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.
    2. Each of the states listed above also provide K-12 input through personnel working for School Board Associations, or State Level Education Administrators.
    3. Every state listed includes Higher Education representatives (i.e., College) or administrators to ensure that college ready standards are supported.

As a local school board member I support the common core. I support higher standards and expectations, and I support Michigan’s desire to be part of designing a better future for our children. Representative McMillin is either genuinely misinformed, or dangerously duplicitous regarding his intentions. Neither option is good for Michigan. 

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