Top teacher’ winner quits due to Common Core

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Announced to stunned audi­ence: ‘I can’t do it any­more’

Stacie Starr reacts to winning the Top Teacher contest (Bruce Bishop/ Chronicle-Telegram

Sta­cie Starr reacts to win­ning the Top Teacher con­test (Bruce Bishop/ Chron­i­cle-Telegram

Hon­ored as the “Top Teacher” by ABC’s “Live with Kel­ly and Michael” show, Sta­cie Starr was speak­ing at an edu­ca­tion forum ear­li­er this week when she dropped a bomb­shell.

The vet­er­an teacher at Elyr­ia High School in Elyr­ia, Ohio, told a stunned audi­ence Mon­day she will resign at the end of the school year because of the new fed­er­al Com­mon Core sys­tem of stan­dards and assess­ments adopt­ed by her state, report­ed the local Chron­i­cle-Telegram news­pa­per.

At the forum, which sought to help par­ents nav­i­gate the com­plex stan­dard­ized test­ing sys­tem, Starr was talk­ing about how spe­cial edu­ca­tion has suf­fered under Com­mon Core.

As she fought back tears, she dis­closed she is leav­ing tra­di­tion­al edu­ca­tion and plans ‘to teach in a dif­fer­ent way.”

I can’t do it any­more, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmos­phere,” she said. “I don’t think any­one under­stands that in this envi­ron­ment if your child can­not quick­ly grasp mate­r­i­al, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not sur­vive.”

Her announce­ment was met with gasps of dis­be­lief, the paper report­ed.

She explained that she has faith in her ninth-grade stu­dents, but they are read­ing at some­times a fourth- and fifth-grade lev­el.

Each and every day, I have to look in my stu­dents’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decid­ed they have to prove what they know,” she said, accord­ing to the Chron­i­cle-Telegram.

Teach­ing is get­ting hard­er, she said, because “the rules keep chang­ing.”

Last month, a sixth-grade teacher in upstate New York tear­ful­ly asked the local school board to be reas­signed due to her objec­tions to teach­ing using Com­mon Core, report­ed WNYT-TV in Albany, New York.

This is not devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate for my stu­dents, and I find it cru­el and harm­ful to sug­gest that it is,” Jen­nifer Rick­ert told the board.

I do not believe in know­ing­ly set­ting up my stu­dents for fail­ure,” she said. “I can­not remain silent for one more day.”

Rick­ert received a stand­ing ova­tion by par­ents and teach­ers in the audi­ence.

On Mon­day, Louisiana Gov. Bob­by Jin­dal, a pos­si­ble 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, began pro­mot­ing a 42-page pro­pos­al to reform Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion at the nation­al lev­el that would repeal Com­mon Core along with a gen­er­al roll­back of fed­er­al author­i­ty. He wants to increase school-choice options for par­ents and give edu­ca­tors greater admin­is­tra­tive free­dom.

I have to get out’

Mean­while, anoth­er teacher told Starr at the Ohio edu­ca­tion forum she also is quit­ting.

I’m like you. I feel like I have to get out,” said Jack­ie Con­rad, a third-grade teacher.

PJ Media not­ed anoth­er vet­er­an teacher in the Elyr­ia dis­trict, Dawn Neely, implored the school board to take con­trol of the “test­ing cul­ture” in their local schools, the Chron­i­cle-Telegram said in Feb. 5 sto­ry.

I don’t know what to do. I am moral­ly against what we are doing, and I think his­to­ry will judge us for what we do to fight for our kids,” she told the Elyr­ia school board. “Look through the test books, and you tell me if you think they are devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate. No one is advo­cat­ing for our dis­trict, and I am ask­ing my dis­trict to be hon­est with the par­ents about what we are doing to stu­dents.”

In response, the board pres­i­dent, Kathryn Kar­pus, said the dis­trict can do noth­ing about it, because it’s bound by Ohio laws that man­date the test­ing.

As WND report­ed, Com­mon Core also has been accused of seiz­ing con­trol of edu­ca­tion from local juris­dic­tions, politi­ciz­ing sub­jects, cen­sor­ing con­ser­v­a­tive view­points, dumb­ing down sub­jects, impos­ing one-size-fits-all stan­dards and data min­ing of pri­vate infor­ma­tion.

Mary Calamia, a licensed clin­i­cal social work­er, said she observed a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the num­ber of stu­dents strug­gling with anx­i­ety and depres­sion since Com­mon Core’s imple­men­ta­tion in New York state.

What was so upset­ting for [the chil­dren] was they couldn’t do the work, they feel stu­pid, they were extreme­ly anx­ious, [and] extreme­ly dis­tressed about going to school,” she said.

In Geor­gia, as WND report­ed, Meg Nor­ris was forced out of her teach­ing job in Hall Coun­ty last year after she ran afoul of manda­to­ry test­ing for Com­mon Core.

We were one of the first coun­ties in the nation to imple­ment Com­mon Core, and at first the teach­ers felt like we were spe­cial, we were all excit­ed. I drank the Kool-Aid,” said Nor­ris. “But after teach­ing Com­mon Core in my class for about 18 months, I start­ed see­ing a lot of behav­iors in my stu­dents that I hadn’t seen before. They start­ed becom­ing extreme­ly frus­trat­ed and at that age, 12 years old, they can’t ver­bal­ize why they couldn’t ‘get it.’”

Will Estra­da, direc­tor of fed­er­al rela­tions for the Home School Legal Defense Asso­ci­a­tion, has raised pri­va­cy con­cerns. He said the assess­ments tied to Com­mon Core col­lect more than 400 points of data on every child.

It’s their likes and dis­likes, grade-point aver­age all the way through school, their home sit­u­a­tion, health ques­tions,” he said. “It’s an incred­i­bly inva­sive col­lec­tion of infor­ma­tion that they are try­ing to col­lect in what they call P-20, or pre-K through work­force.”