Common Core Forces “Top Teacher” Into Retirement


The Ohio teacher who just last year won Live with Kelly and Michael’s Top Teacher Search has announced that she will retire this year due to the pressures of Common Core and mandated state testing. From any possible angle, Stacie Starr is one of the best and brightest the teaching profession has to offer. That she is being driven out of the field by ludicrous, politician-driven standards should be a wake-up call for anyone who takes the future of education seriously.

Starr gave the surprise announcement last Monday at an education forum intended to bring clarity to parents about the standardized testing program. In the middle of a speech on the disastrous effects of these tests on special-ed students, Starr announced that she could no longer sit idly by and watch children suffer. “I am going to teach in a different way,” she said.

Targets of her criticism include developmentally-inappropriate tests, state expectations that aren’t in line with cognitive science, and the rigid pressure students are under to succeed. According to Starr, this maelstrom of standards “tortures” children with special needs and puts many students on a path that leads straight from school to prison.

While Starr’s announcement comes as a shock due to her exemplary background and national prominence, it is hardly out of the ordinary. She joins thousands of teachers who are leaving the profession because of what Common Core and standardized testing has done to America’s education system. The folks behind Common Core inevitably take a “we’re better off without you” approach to these fleeing professionals, demonstrating the hubris with which these standards were concocted.

The fact is that these are good teachers. In a profession that has become a playground for politicians, however, up is down and left is right. Can’t hack it under Common Core? That just means you aren’t a good teacher. Nothing could possibly be wrong with the system itself! Why, that would mean we spent all of this money for nothing. That can’t be the case.

The philosophy behind Common Core is rotten. Hmm, kids are failing. What should we do? Let’s raise the standards even higher! In the development of these standards, education leaders have chosen to ignore hard science about the way kids learn, how they develop cognitively, and the concrete benefits of rest, fun, and classroom flexibility. Instead, they seem committed to a path that aims to diminish the role of the teacher by turning every classroom into a Common Core franchise. You can almost imagine them salivating at the thought of replacing teachers with easily-programmed robot surrogates.

Real learning happens when students are engaged. Engagement happens when you hire excellent teachers and give them the freedom to do what they do best. One-size-fits-all is never the right approach for anything, but it is especially ill-suited to education. History shows that Common Core will eventually be replaced by something newer and fresher. In the meantime, how many good teachers will we lose?

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