Sarah Burke Berenson: Disrespecting teachers

June 7, 2014 

Paul Slobodian in his June 1 Point of View piece “ The common traits of failed school experiments” suggested that Common Core be put on hold while he quietly advocated school choice (vouchers). He claimed that several, well-known educational experiments were failures and therefore North Carolina needed to delay this framework. What about the successes?

The past 50 years in the U.S. have seen amazing strides in science and technology. More students than ever before complete high school in North Carolina. More students than ever before go to college in North Carolina. Our U.S. workforce is one of the most productive in the world.

Can education do better? Of course, given adequate funding, resources and respect. Our public school teachers play an important role in these successes. Abandoning the Common Core is very disrespectful of N.C. public school teachers. They have spent two years creating lessons, attending professional development and implementing more problem-solving and reasoning into their classrooms. Slobodian, along with the legislature, is ready to deliver yet another blow to teachers by sending them back to start all over again.

Teachers are educational professionals, experts who deserve our respect. Slobodian quoted as his experts an English literature major and an economist. With degrees in business management and counseling psychology, Slobodian is somewhat out-of-field, too. Recall that the Common Core is a framework for K-12 curriculum development in mathematics and literacy.

The validity of the schools of choice research, cited by Slobodian, is continually being challenged by the National Education Policy Center and other organizations. The Brookings Institution, whose research supports schools of choice (vouchers), received the Grand Prize Bunkum Award from the NEPC acknowledging Brookings as having the “shoddiest educational research of 2013.”

Dan Lortie observed that because everyone has been a student in school, everyone thinks they are experts in teaching and learning. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to listen to the experts in education, those who have taught K-12 mathematics, those who have taught K-12 reading and writing. Read “50 Myths & Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools.”

Sarah Burke Berenson

Former director, NCSU Center for Research in Mathematics & Science Education


The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View.

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