Dear Wyoming Representatives,
I am writing this letter as a personal testimony and plea for you to vote “Yes” on HB97. I am a Wyoming Native, I served 6 years in the Army and Army National Guard, I have a B.S. in Business Management, a master certification in Project Management, and until recently I was working on my B.A. in Elementary Education. I had one year left in my education program but quit. The reason I quit is because I could not in good faith teach Common Core Curriculum. I wanted to become a teacher because I have something to share with children, a love of learning and creativity. Knowing that Common Core was going to end up driving curriculum and taking the skill of teaching out of the hands of teachers and putting into the hands of bureaucrats was too much for me to agree to.
Education is a constantly evolving entity. It changes because people change, politics change and technology changes. Educators are tasked with the most difficult jobs, not just in teaching our children, but in having to constantly adapt, improvise, and overcome an ever changing field. There are not many professions that have so many outside variables that impact the very success of the profession like education does. Knowing that, we as a nation need to work together to provide the best schooling we can for our students. That means we need to embrace parental choice, work towards a consistent, yet limited government role, reform our existing schools, and provide our students with the necessary tools for success. Common Core does not accomplish any of that – quite the opposite in fact, as it takes away many parental and educator choices and increases government involvement.
Parents have choices regarding their children’s education in a way that they never did before. They have options such as home schools, public schools, private schools, charter schools, and online schools. Having this many options can be confusing for a parent but can also provide a custom fit for the type of education they want for their child. With many inner city schools falling behind due to lack of money, technology or other reasons and high-income suburban schools succeeding, one can see why a parent would want more choice regarding their child’s education. The question, however, is how to provide those choices? Milton Friedman argues that the privatization of schools is an option. He states, “The most feasible way to bring about a gradual yet substantial transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend.” The direction that Common Core is going takes many of these freedoms away from parents.
Because I believe as Milton Friedman does – that parents should be able to freely choose the schools their children attend – I could not continue learning about a curriculum I whole heartedly disagree with. I have several friends that are educators and they say, “If I were in college now, I would change my major – I would not become a teacher.” How does that benefit our kids? We already have a shortage of quality educators – why consciously create a larger shortage by driving away people that are passionate about education?
One of the biggest challenges, I think, that educators face today is an ever changing politicization of education. One president and congress makes one set of changes to education and then 4 to 8 years later it changes again. The only ones who suffer from this are students and teachers. They are always subject to the changing whims of politics. In the 1980’s a report titled, “A Nation at Risk,” was released and our nation decided that our education standards needed a makeover if we were to stay ahead of our enemies. Then we got a new president and a new report, “Goals 2000: Educate America Act.” Schools had to, again, react to this new report and new ideas. In 2000 we had another new president eight years later and another new program with “No Child Left Behind” for schools to adapt to. With the constant change in reports and programs that seem to favor the ideals of whichever political party is in power, how do schools stay ahead of the curve? They don’t and the government comes up with the idea of Common Core, but it is just another politicization of education that students and teachers have to react to. We need a proactive education system, not a reactive one. Curriculum shouldn’t be based on politics – it should be based on local choice, educator choice, and parental choice.
I don’t know that I will ever finish my education degree, but I will always be an advocate for what is right in education, and what is right for our students.