ANN JAFFE, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
Parent Fights Principal Who Uses Common Core
To Deny A Teacher's Request For A Holocaust Speaker:
Guest blog by Andye Daley
|Meet Andy Daley|
My first call was to the Delaware Department of Education, where I spoke with the person in charge of ELA Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development for the state, and therefore oversees Common Core. She told me that each district can "interpret" Common Core and that it seems the principal took the most literal interpretation he could find.
I asked what oversight the DOE had over a district's interpretation of Common Core and while she said that if she feels a district is misinterpreting the standards she could intervene, she stopped short of offering to make a call. She did say she would call me back to see what happened, but as of now I have yet to hear back from her.
I rarely do this kind of thing but I have to give a shout out to my friend Andye Daley. As many of you know, my parents are Holocaust survivors. Time is passing, the years are taking their toll on the survivor community. In the not too distant future, we will no longer have eyewitnesses who can share their experiences, and in doing so, make the most important impact on educating future generations. It is so important to do this now, to engage young people in genuine conversations with those who were there. Andye is a mother, an educator, an activist and a truly passionate person. She is fighting a very good fight right now against a very ignorant, uninformed and misguided principal in her Delaware school district, who, among other things, thinks that having a guest speaker come to his school is "not common core aligned." It is literally making me nauseous, as an educator, a Jew, the child of survivors, a principal, a teacher and a lover of authentic, rich curricular experiences for students, to imagine that there is a school leader out there who interprets common core this way. There are layers and layers of issues here…but I just have to thank Andye. This daughter of a Dachau survivor is beyond moved that she is standing up for what is right. Thank you Andye for doing what needs to be done to make sure the stories are told before it is too late.
I met with the principal and the asst. superintendent for about an hour and a half. I asked him to explain, in his own words, what had happened. It was apparent to me that there was a lack of judgment on his part when he told the teacher that she could show a video of Oprah interviewing Eli Wiesel at Auschwitz, yet not give her the approval to have the survivor come to speak to the entire 8th grade. He said he thought the video would suffice for "historical reference."
I asked why this was his choice over an actual first hand account with a person who could hold a question and answer period on the subject. "How is a video able to answer questions that come up better than someone right in front of them?" I asked. After hearing the speaker, the students could ask questions, write an account, do research - all Common Core Standards.
This went on for some time.
I then took the opportunity to bring up his interpretation of the Common Core Standards and how our administrators need to do a better job in relaying to principals and teachers that while there may be good aspects of Common Core we need to couple them with the ability to reach outside the standards to make sure the humanities are not lost.
|Churning out Common Core compliance|
I am really struggling with how the Common Core can be used to squash the passion of our teachers. How it can create roadblocks that inhibit teachers from maintaining their love of teaching. How can you have students who are passionate about learning if you have teachers who are told not to be passionate about teaching? One has a direct effect on the other.
As we left it, the principal was to reach out to the 8th grade team of teachers. It was my hope that I would quickly get a call telling me to go ahead and schedule a Holocaust survivor to come and speak to the 8th graders.
“Thank you for agreeing to have the Holocaust speaker address your 8th grade. I know that the students will get so much out of this experience. I want to just go over a few details. I have given you the contact information below on who to call to set up the speaker. I have also agreed to help in the transportation of whichever speaker you get, as they are up in age and do not drive.
Understand that this is quite an undertaking for these survivors and speaking more than once a day is really out of the question. Therefore, having them speak to the entire student body at your school will not happen. That is one of the reasons I initially said that she or he would only be speaking to the 8th grade.
Let me know as soon as you have a confirmed date so I can free up my calendar so that I can pick up and drop off the speaker.
Thank you again I look forward to helping facilitate this very beneficial event for your 8th grade students.