I am talking about teachers in New York State who are given curriculum guides, sometimes hundreds of pages long. These guides include objectives, standards and a lot of talk about what students should learn. Put together by committees and changed periodically, these guides cannot possibly be read, remembered or understood, let alone followed. They are bloated, redundant, full of imprecise language and too ambitious to be taken seriously. If they were taken seriously, they would take most teachers out of the classroom for an extended period of time. What exactly do you mean “take most teachers out of the classroom?” If they were taken seriously, teachers would need to be given yearlong, paid leaves to study and incorporate them in their teaching.
If that isn’t enough, a teacher recently wrote me saying, “standards in curriculum guides are only the beginning. Now add Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for measuring non-tested areas and it is a wonder anyone will decide to go into education. Unfortunately, the students will be the ones to suffer when all this is intended to help. All this is to roll out and be implemented NEXT YEAR!”
Fortunately, most teachers and administrators can use the necessary buzzwords to keep the State Department of Education off their backs. Like in the bad ol’ days of the Soviet Union and Red China, people who were governed by out of control committees just mouthed the words when they thought police were around. Only a small percentage in the Soviet Union and Red China were shot. Hopefully, very few or no teachers will be fired for failing to provide “proof” that they meet the standards. It’s time for a Teachers’ Declaration of Independence.