System

The farmers are harvesting their corn, the hummingbirds are heading south, and the nights are cooler. This can mean only one thing: Maryland’s school superintendent is about to unveil yet another new “system.”

Having gone through more “systems” than Redskins quarterbacks from Theismann to RGIII, this year’s new, improved system is called “Common Core Standards.”

“Standards,” of course, in Maryland is open to interpretation. The former “standard” for a passing grade was 70, since lowered to 60 in the Baltimore school system. Even if you flunk all your quizzes and tests in a given subject, you can still pass if you can explain the general substance. You get credit for class participation, which can mean showing up for class without a handgun.

The Maryland State Education Association has begun a month-long ad campaign focusing on the issues that are critical to the success of Common Core: “adequate resources for technology, textbooks, and materials; ongoing training for educators; and community awareness of how student test scores will be affected.” Let me translate: more money for schools and teachers. Since the Maryland legislature ruled that maintenance of effort for schools could override local tax caps, the schools have been able to gobble up money meant for roads, cops, and EMTs. They want more.

One of the more remarkable aspects of Common Core’s stated goals is what it doesn’t say. Nowhere in the sentence above does it mention “children” or “excellence.” These have nothing to do with the union monkeys teachers have become. I like that it mentions “community awareness of how student test scores will be affected.” Uh oh. Seventy-five percent of Maryland students attending community colleges have to take at least one remedial class. It’s going to get worse. It probably won’t get better before a new “system” is installed.

Here’s what they say, “Student test scores will be unpredictable until new tests match the new curriculum, which may take several years.Rather than focus on test scores that are not very meaningful, we need to stay focused on helping students and teachers succeed with the new, rigorous Common Core standards.” So, if test scores are meaningless, why have them? How rigorous can it be without them, and if you can’t measure the results, how can you have “standards”?

We’ve listened for years to teachers whining about having to “teach to the test.” The curious thing about this is that the kids were flunking the tests so apparently even by focusing on “teaching to the test,” teachers weren’t doing a very good job. With the new standards, the kids can still flunk the test, but the problem will be with the community’s “awareness” and the lack of funds and materials.

So what the state education association is selling is the promise of better student achievement sometime in the future (trust us), and while you may not understand why your kid cannot read or write, this will be a failure on your part, or a lack of “awareness.”

We’ve seen this in the past. A high school junior may only know the alphabet up to “G.” But by his senior year, he may be able to recite the alphabet all the way to “T.” In education-speak, this is a 100 percent improvement. If you add in classroom participation, and the ability to guess what the subject was about, you’re looking at a possible class valedictorian.

Don’t try this in a real job. Say it’s your job to make widgets and you have an order for 1000. When your buyer comes to you and asks where the widgets are, tell him you’re installing a new system and you’ll need more money. When he comes back several years later to complain that the widgets you’re selling don’t work, accuse him of being insensitive and that you no longer test the widgets because it’s “meaningless.”

Then try to fill out the unemployment form.

Donald Trump is being sued by the New York Attorney General because his university didn’t provide an adequate education for its students and they couldn’t find jobs. That’ll never happen here.

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