Cast Iron Skillet

A blog about teaching, English, and teaching English

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The Lawfetchers

Here’s how ALEC works: A small group of wealthy, powerful men meet in secret and write a law that would bring lots of money to them and their friends. Then they fly a bunch of state legislators to a big shindig, wine and dine them, put them in a fancy hotel, wow them with speakers such as Milton Friedman and Dick Cheney. Then they share the laws with the legislators, who maybe tweak them a bit and then take them home and introduce them as their own. There must be a word for this. It’s not “representative,” and it’s not “democracy.” It might be “lobbying,” but ALEC’s lawyers evade this definition to slip through a loophole in anti-corruption laws. Anyway, “lobbying” is too weak a word. I’d say ALEC is more of an outsourcing of the most basic function of government. Our elected politicians aren’t lawmakers, they’re lawfetchers.


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The Lawfetchers II

This year in Ohio, teachers and administrators across the state are pulling our hair out dealing with the latest abomination from the lawfetchers in Columbus: it’s 57,000 words of new government regulations known as House Bill 555. Its two sponsors are ALEC members. Six of its seven co-sponsors are ALEC members. It’s not an Ohio law. It’s an ALEC law.

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In case you had any doubts …

In case you had any doubts that one of the purposes of the Common Core is to de-professionalize teachers, to make them mere purveyors of standardized curriculum … here is Bill Gates writing in the Feb. 11, 2014 USA Today. He claims to be debunking the “myth” that the Common Core “will limit teachers’ creativity and flexibility.”

These are standards, just like the ones schools have always had; they are not a curriculum. They are a blueprint of what students need to know, but they have nothing to say about how teachers teach that information. It’s still up to local educators to select the curriculum.

In fact, the standards will give teachers more choices. When every state had its own standards, innovators making new educational software or cutting-edge lesson plans had to make many versions to reach all students. Now, consistent standards will allow more competition and innovation to help teachers do their best work.

So this is how it will work. Local educators (not teachers) will have the freedom to select curriculum. The real creative people, the innovators, will work for Microsoft and Pearson and provide the cutting-edge lesson plans. Teachers, of course, won’t need to be professionals, won’t need to be in the business for a career, won’t need to be doing a job they love in order to help kids and maybe even help the world just a little bit, and certainly won’t need to be paid middle-class salaries. In the brave new world of the Common Core, teachers (that poor little backward tribe) will finally be able to follow simple instructions, to read a standardized script aligned with a standardized test. And this, they will be so relieved to finally understand, is their best work.

You can find the entire Gates article here: