It’s come to this: early childhood as nightmare. Peter Rawitsch is a first-grade teacher from New York State with nearly 40 years of classroom experience. He’s alarmed at the course of early childhood education under the regimen of the Common Core Stated Standards, and he’s written an eloquent call to action—to parents and fellow teachers—to raise their voices.
There’s a paywall at the Albany Times Union, so I’ve given you highlights. Needless to say, every word is worth reading.
Rawitsch claims that six- and seven-year-olds are diverted from their dreams in the race to get them college-and-career ready, which puts the kibosh on active learning:
Six and seven year old children are active learners. They use all of their senses to learn in a variety of ways. Each child learns at their own pace. Play is their work. Using materials they can manipulate helps them think about how things work, use their imagination, and solve problems. They construct knowledge through their experiences.
…Because the children are at different places in their development, some have been successful with the new standards, but for too many, these new expectations are inappropriate and unfair. They’re being asked to master material they simply aren’t ready to do yet. Among the flaws of the CCSS is the assumption that all students in a given grade are capable of learning all of the same grade level standards by the end of a school year. But many of the current 1st grade standards were, just a few years ago, skills that 2nd grade students worked on.
Rawitsch also notes the shocking fact, conveniently ignored in the broader education reform conversation, that no experts in early childhood education—nationally, and in New York State—weighed in on the development of the CSSS.
The fact is, no experts in early childhood education worked on the development of the CCSS. There were no early childhood educators on the Board of Regents when the CCSS were adopted in New York. The result has been, that in order to help my students meet the CCSS, I’ve had to create longer blocks of time to teach reading and writing, prepare them for similar looking answers on multiple choice math tests, and help them practice locating and bubbling in small circles on answer sheets. Students are also required to keep up with the “pacing” calendars and curricula many school districts have adopted because they are synchronized with the reading, writing, and mathematics testing that is now given throughout the school year. This means that there is much less time for Science, Social Studies, exploration, and play.
Here are Rawitsch’s parting words:
It’s time to take action! Parents need to ask teachers about how the CCSS have impacted their child’s school day. How much more sitting are the children doing for reading and writing activities? How have additional paper and pencil tests affected when and how things are taught? Which activities and experiences that once enriched the school day and fostered a love of learning have been pushed out?…Together we need to speak up and advocate for an education that celebrates and honors our young learners.