The Connective Tissue of a Community

The connective tissue of those efforts is a communitywide focus on development. “Healthy development in school occurs when children form positive relationships with adults,” explained Dr. James P. Comer, who founded the Yale program more than 40 years ago. “For meaningful change to be sustainable, you need a work force of professionals that really understands child development, and you need policies that incentivize the behaviors that rely on that sort of expertise. Poverty is a disease that affects a community, and we can’t heal a community in isolation. We have to heal the whole thing by creating an ecosystem of folks on the ground.”

–Sam Chaltain, “A Town Where a School Bus Is More Than a Bus” in the NY Times

Obliquity Strikes Again: Oblique Messages Better Meet Their Targets


“The results were clear: While higher depression scores were generally linked with lower intentions to seek help from a romantic partner, a close friend, or family members among participants who received the direct message, there was no such relationship for the participants who received a mistargeted message.

According to the researchers, these findings indicate that the mistargeted message was more effective at promoting help-seeking than the direct message was. And a second online study confirmed this pattern of results.” [bold added]

–“Mistargeted Messages Could Spur Help-Seeking for Depression” via Association for Psychological Science’s blog, Observations

Click here for more on the principle of obliquity

Words are Important: Notes from an improved ‘gapper’

This post is brought to you via Louisiana professor and education-improver, Dr. Michael Hicks, continuing the exploration of the language that we use to describe education.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”

This quote from John Dewey is how I introduced myself to the students in my fall semester Intro to Education course.

The quote served as a challenge to students to think deeply about the word “education” and what it really means to them, to their families, and to the perspective schools, communities and students that they will ultimately serve.

It challenged me, too. Always has.

But (pardon the opening preposition) it challenged me to think about other words and their relevance in my everyday use. Words like reformer, which I know makes me feel a certain way when I am described as such, has a different meaning when I embrace the introspection of it. Reform, which by most accounts means to make changes in a particular structure of things (typically a social, economic, or political institution or practice) in order to improve it, has evolved to take on new meanings. Not everyone feels the noble tinge that I do here in Louisiana when I hear the word.

To me, education reformers are engaged in the not-so-popular work of calling things not as they are, but as they could be. They are engaged in uncovering the completely obvious—but seldom articulated—educational plights of poor and underserved students. They are the Sally Field-type whistle-blowers of practices and people within our own profession of public education who embrace the status quo and blame lack of school progress on the demographics of the students. They are brave, intelligent, and have the best interest of all students at heart. They are educators – public, virtual and online, private and parochial. Yes, some are politicians and preachers, but most are principals and parents whose connection to what happens in the classroom is real and unescapably personal.

But, this is my definition.

Within and without the great state of Louisiana, education reform has several meanings and connotations. Whitney Tilson, Diane Ravitch, Randi Weingarten, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein and many, many others have formed their own variant of the word which has lead to many other strains, producing diverse meanings and equally diverse feelings and followers. This is life itself, and like life, education is personal and intertwined with our own distinct interpretations of humanity.

I now prefer education improver over education reformer. Some of the improvements that I advocate align me with the more modern meanings of the word reformer, but some do not. Some of the improvements that I advocate are pro charter schools, and some are not.

Some of the improvements I will fight for are Louisiana-centered, and some are not. Some of the improvements that make sense to me address refocusing the purpose and viability of traditional neighborhood schools, and some address the technology and structure that students might require in the next century. The word “reformer” limits me, and I want to know no bounds in my advocacy for students.

This conversation that I’m having with myself (of which you are now a guest) reminds me of when I stopped being a gapper. Early in my educational career, I became a poster child for calling out and trying to decrease the achievement gap between Black and White students. I studied authors who helped me articulate the statistics. I wrote blog articles on how to fix the inequalities. When the achievement gap fire began to wane, I jumped to the opportunity gap, then to the exposure gap and next the expectation gap. Gaps, gaps everywhere, and not a spot to think! I was gap obsessed.

Words are important. Real discrepancies do exist in public education, private education, pre-K, K-12, higher ed, and in everything, when you look deep enough. This is life itself. The deficit language I once employed in order to address and “fix” these discrepancies was weakening my efforts and limiting my effectiveness.

I now prefer strength based educator over achievement gap specialist. When I’m invited to speak to or engage faculties in school climate and high expectation culture topics, I rarely mention the gaps I once waved the flag for.

At times, I wish I were a bird paleontologist – I’m intrigued with their research methodologies and their findings about our winged friends; but I am not. I am a professor of education and my words are important. When I ask my students how they will improve education, I get robust visions of the future of schooling from sharp young minds. When I ask who will be an education reformer, I’m met with blank stares. When I speak about the uniqueness of Black and Brown students and how to address underserved communities, I see excitement. When I talk about the gaps between certain NCLB groups, I get confused glances. It’s not what ideology you agree with more that I’m interested in, it’s much more personal than that. It is who will you serve as an educator, why will you serve them, and what will you do when you are blessed with the opportunity to do so.

I want my students to be engaged in the current happenings of American and global education. I want them to be informed. I want them to have very strong opinions. I also want them to know that words are important and that education, which per Dewey is also life itself, should constantly challenge them to examine the words they use to describe themselves and their very noble work of teaching other people’s children.

Complexity and Community: Beyond Control

By Davidlohr Bueso from Santiago, Chile (police special forces) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In facing complexity, institutions that seek to represent some form of authority can no longer count on simple mechanisms of control, nor can they claim to hold the sole, proprietary keys to critical information. The information most critical to their success lies within the minds of those they would seek to influence.

Knowledge from the community, as we’ve discussed here before, is critical information to the flourishing of successful enterprises, whether a business, school, government, or—as recent statements by NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and FBI Director James Comey have made clear—a police force.

In “Another Bratton revolution for the New York City police” by Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe, Bratton addresses the significant tension between the police and the communities they work most within: “The biggest challenge. . . is that the neighborhoods where our approval is the lowest are the same neighborhoods most plagued by violent crime.”

To address the great rift that lies between the perception of the communities they serve and the police officers, Bratton wants to tap into the expertise of veteran cops by pairing them with rookies. This apprenticeship model gives cops an opportunity to learn from those who have long served the communities they work within:

Basically, it’s getting back to the beat cop paradigm, freeing them from the tyranny of responding to radio calls. Cops will learn, from the community itself, who the troublemakers are, reducing the need for the random stops and frisks that engender so much resentment.

“For years,” Bratton said, “we’ve been asking our officers to engage with the community, but we’ve never given them the time to do it.” [bold added]

There’s parallels to teaching here. Most teachers are thrown into any school they can find employment at, with little apprenticeship, and little induction into the community their school serves. Teachers are left stranded in an isolated classroom, struggling to support students whose everyday lives may be so foreign to that of their teachers that may be little opportunity to connect new academic learning to prior knowledge or social aspects of students’ lives.

When you add racial and socio-economic differences into this mix, situations can become toxic. Though everyone talks about high expectations in the education sector, at the ground level, in that isolated classroom, who is to say that this teacher is equipped with the context and understanding to work positively with students that may look, talk, and live in a manner completely foreign to her own experience? What kind of training and support has she received to prepare her for the specific social, cultural, linguistic, and emotional reality of the students who sit before her?

The FBI Director, James Comey, also addressed the deep tension that can lie between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. In “F.B.I. Director Speaks Out on Race and Police Bias” by Michael Schmidt in the New York Times, Comey refers to the “significant research showing that all people have unconscious racial biases.”

Echoing Bratton’s comments on beat policing, Comey suggestions the following:

“Law enforcement officers, he said, need ‘to design systems and processes to overcome that very human part of us all.

Although the research may be unsettling, what we do next is what matters most,” Mr. Comey said. . . .

Mr. Comey said tensions could be eased if the police got to know those they were charged to protect.

“It’s hard to hate up close,” he said. [bold added]

It’s a constant refrain in education these days for a reason: getting to know our students and build positive relationships with them is critical. Furthermore, knowing their families and community is critical. Without this knowledge and understanding, unconscious biases and assumptions have free reign. And while that may have worked just fine for schools and law enforcement agencies in the past, it’s no longer tenable in a day and age where individuals are equipped with advanced communications technology (smartphones).

We live in a time in which anyone with a phone can nearly instantaneously post a blog or a video and influence many others within their networks. This has changed the game for those who work for institutions that represent “authority,” and who seek to influence the constituents they serve.

This recognition has also been made by the military. In “A refocus of military influence” by Vaughan Bell on Mind Hacks, Bell investigates the birth of the 77th Brigade, a new arm of the British military that “has been prompted by a growing realisation that the success of security strategy depends as much on influencing populations at home and abroad as it does through military force.”

The formation of the 77th Brigade is a mostly reflection of a wider refiguring of global conflict that puts cognition and behaviour at the centre of political objectives.

It is simultaneously more and less democratic that [sic] ‘hard power’. It makes the battle of ideas, rather than the use of force, central to determining political outcome but attempts to shape the information environment so some ideas become more equal than others. [bold added]

In schools, we have long shed disciplinary mechanisms of paddling and rapping knuckles with rulers. Yet we still cling to vestiges of this mentality, suspending kids right and left, rather than seeking to get to the heart of the psychological perceptions and emotional and social experiences that drive that behavior. But this, too, is changing, as concepts of “restorative justice,” rather than suspension, become more widely propagated. Restorative justice sounds like a hippie thing. But when you consider that the method strategically taps into the perceptions and emotional experiences and social networks of those involved, it becomes more evident as a tactic for better coping with complexity by harnessing the knowledge of those who hold the most critical information.

All of this talk of police work as embedded within the community it serves brings to mind David Simon’s “The Wire” series. One of the moments that most stood out to me from that show was when a police major, Colvin, laments the “warfare” mentality engendered by the “war on drugs,” and recalls the “real police work” of the beat officer walking the streets of the community she serves.

Here’s a short clip of his monologue [Warning: strong language use]:

Stepping Outside of Ourselves to Help Ourselves

By User:Viogfernos in English Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Doubles2x.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been tracking an interesting theme developing across multiple articles recently that may be relevant to educators: by viewing ourselves from a third-person perspective, we can better empower ourselves to tackle psychological or emotional obstacles.

This approach seems worth bearing in mind as we work with our students—and ourselves—to try to break negative habits and mental models and instill positive ones. For example, when working with students to set goals, we can help them word their goals in the third-person. Or when working with children that struggle with self-control and crisis management, we can teach them to use positive self-talk that refers to themselves in the second or third-person (e.g. “You can do this! You just need to take some deep breaths.”)

Here’s the articles that develop this theme [some items bolded for effect]:

Need to Solve a Personal Problem? Try a Third-Person Perspective” on Association for Psychological Science’s Observations blog

Participants considering their own romantic problem from a third person-perspective scored higher in wise reasoning than those considering their own problem from a first-person perspective. Stepping back from their own problems, psychologically speaking, led them to reason more wisely — to think more like they would if they were giving their friends advice.

Pronouns Matter when Psyching Yourself” by Ozlem Ayduk & Ethan Kross on Harvard Business Review

We found that cueing people to reflect on intense emotional experiences using their names and non-first-person pronouns such as “you” or “he” or “she” consistently helped them control their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

For example, in one study we found that participants who silently referred to themselves in the second or third person or used their own names while preparing for a five-minute speech were calmer and more confident and performed better on the task than those who referred to themselves using “I” or “me.”

The effects extended beyond the task, too: People who had used non-first-person pronouns or their names felt more positively about their performance on the speech once it was over. They also experienced less shame about it and ruminated about it less. Those are big pluses — ruminating endlessly over past experiences can hurt not only your psychological well-being but also your physical health.

It didn’t matter whether the research subjects were anxious or calm at baseline; both types of people benefited from the subtle shift in language.

Nor were there different effects for use of the second- or third-person pronouns or their own names. All that mattered was whether the participants did or didn’t use first-person pronouns.

Want to learn a new skill more effectively? Stop thinking about yourself!” by Christian Jarrett on BPS Research Digest

A common assumption is that an internal focus is harmful to performance because it directs unhelpful conscious attention to bodily control. But what if the costs of self-focus are more general and profound than that? Perhaps merely thinking about ourselves in any way is harmful to performance and learning because to do so activates the “self-schema”.

The self-schema is “more than a philosophical construct” argue Brad McKay and his colleagues in a new paper, it is in fact a “functional neural network located anatomically in cortical midline structures.” Their theory is that anything that activates this network – be that over-focus on bodily movements, memories of past performance, or the scrutiny of an audience – will be detrimental to skilled performance and learning.

. . . McKay and his team said their “experiments are the first to show that self-reflection alone is sufficient to interfere with motor skill activation and performance.”

Me, Meet Virtual Me” by Sarah C.P. Williams on Medium

What happens next, as you’re immersed in a virtual reality, could change your behavior for hours, days or even months to come. Researchers like Blanke have started to pull back the curtain on how the brain responds to simulated realities, and they’re finding that taking off the headset, or flicking off a screen, doesn’t end the effects of the technology.

Watching an avatar of yourself exercise makes you more confident in your ability to work out — and more likely to exercise in the days to come. Likewise, watching your own avatar comfort a child lifts your mood, seeing your avatar quickly gain weight after overeating can temper your appetite, and meeting an old-you avatar can inspire you to save more money for the future.

. . . “The patients’ experiences were really like biological avatars,” Blanke says. The patients would feel that their body was located a few feet away from their vantage point; they’d see themselves in the third person.

. . . Called the Proteus Effect by researchers, it’s the idea that someone’s behavior can be affected by the appearance of their avatar (rather than the environment) in a virtual setting. This is where Yoon’s ideas are rooted: identify with a villainous avatar and you’ll act slightly more nefariously, identify with a healthy avatar and you’ll want to be healthier. It has less do with the virtual environment and more to do with that other-you.

Found other research or articles that further develops this theme? Please share with our community in the comments!

Studying Segregation in NYC

Marilyn Rhames, whom I’ve written about here before, generously offered her (much more prestigious) blogging space, “Charting My Own Course” to share a unit of study on segregation which my 8th graders undertook last year. Please read the full piece to learn more about the surprises that my students and I discovered along the way, and while you’re at it, follow Rhames’s excellent and thoughtful blog on Education Week (you can also find her on Twitter).

Here’s a taster:

When it comes to conversations on race, it’s important that we provide students with multiple perspectives, rather than jump immediately to the convenient, “safe,” or conventional narratives so often conveyed by media headlines or by superficial references to history. The tension between white and black communities is not only a matter of individual prejudice, nor is it an issue relegated to a distant past. We won’t move forward in improving race relations unless we are able to critically examine and study those relations more deeply, so that we can understand our own and others’ prejudices and ideals.

On Slavery and School Management

Mark and I began blogging about schools and ecosystems because we were frustrated with the business model of school reform. As we wrote in our original schools and ecosystems manifesto, “applying an industrial-growth model” to school design doesn’t work– at least not for students and teachers. We proposed that viewing schools as ecosystems might help us design more humane and effective educational reforms than those currently on offer.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like that’s the direction education reform will take in New York State anytime soon. In case you hadn’t heard, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to subject public school teachers to be a new evaluation scale wherein student standardized test scores will be the core measure of a teacher’s quality. Cuomo also wants a merit pay system wherein teacher pay would be linked to student test scores.

Merit pay and value-added assessment: these are common proposals from advocates of the business model. Their merits have been roundly debated elsewhere, so our readers likely already have a position on each of these management tools. What you might not know, however, is that both of these common management techniques have their roots in American chattel slavery.

Caitlin C. Rosenthal, a fellow at that hotbed of radicalism known as Harvard Business School, has been researching the connections between modern management and the techniques that slaveowners used to track and improve their slaves’ productivity. Rosenthal has found that having a captive workforce allowed slaveowners to experiment with a wide variety of management techniques. Among these, merit pay:

“This led owners to experiment with ways of increasing the pace of labor, Rosenthal explains, such as holding contests with small cash prizes for those who picked the most cotton, and then requiring the winners to pick that much cotton from there on out. Slave narratives describe how others used the data to calculate punishment, meting out whippings according to how many pounds each picker fell short.

Similar incentive plans reappeared in early twentieth-century factories, with managers dangling the promise of cash rewards if their workers reached certain production levels.”

Slaveowners also pioneered the art of measuring employee value as a function of productivity:

“Starting in the late 1840s, [slave-managing innovator] Thomas Affleck’s account books instructed planters to record depreciation or appreciation of slaves on their annual balance sheet. In 1861, for example, another Mississippi planter priced his 48-year-old foreman, Hercules, at $500; recorded the worth of Middleton, a 26-year-old top-producing field hand, at $1,500; and gave 9-month-old George Washington a value of $150. At the end of the year, he repeated this process, adjusting for changes in health and market prices, and the difference in price was recorded on the final balance sheet.

These account books played a role in reducing slaves to ‘human capital,’ Rosenthal says, allowing owners who were removed from day-to-day operations to see their slaves as assets, as interchangeable units of production in a ledger, instead of as people.”

Much of this is hardly surprising. After all:

“The evolution of modern management is usually associated with good old-fashioned intelligence and ingenuity—’a glorious parade of inventions that goes from textile looms to the computer,’ Rosenthal says. But in reality, it’s much messier than that. Capitalism is not just about the free market; it was also built on the backs of slaves who were literally the opposite of free.

Perhaps I’m being generous, but I’d like to assume that when Cuomo and other business-minded reformers propose using merit pay and value-added assessment of employees, they’re unaware that they’re proposing slaveowner management techniques. Now that this troubling history is out there, let’s hope they’ll reconsider before advocating tools used to build and maintain one of America’s most brutal and repugnant institutions.

Human Beings Crave Connection

colombia 111

Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

–Johann Hari, “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It’s Not What You Think” on Huff Post

More on the relation between environment and addiction

The Deficit of Wisdom On the Common Core

Counterclaim

I’ve publicly made the case for Common Core standards on a number of forums (The Core Knowledge Blog, Chalkbeat, VIVA Teachers, & Impatient Optimists). I view the standards as an opportunity to align better practices and stronger content, though how the standards ultimately play out is dependent on how we elect to interpret and implement them. Unfortunately, most leaders are opting to play political theater, and too many teachers and parents use the standards as a proxy for problematic state policies or district decision-making.

I’ve since ceased writing about the standards, mainly because I’m too darn busy planning curriculum and developing IEPs (using the Common Core standards as a guide)—but furthermore because the constant barrage of feigned outrage at the standards has caused me to tune out.

But this morning while on the way to work, I read this piece, “The Wisdom Deficit” by Michael Godsey on The Atlantic that seriously got to me, to the point that I feel compelled to write a rebuttal. Here’s why this piece upsets me:

  • It’s written by an experienced ELA teacher who has his heart in the right place: he cares deeply about engaging his students in the wisdom gleaned through the study of classic literature.
  • It points to real problems in how the Common Core are being misinterpreted at the ground level.

After framing the “so-called ‘College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards’ in a dismissively perfunctory manner, rather than analyzing the standards themselves further for evidence of the problems he outlines, he instead points to an “adjunct faculty member in Secondary Education at San Francisco State University” as an appointed spokesperson for the Common Core:

Kate Kinsella, an influential author who consults school districts across the country and is considered “a guiding force on the National Advisory Board for the Consortium on Reading Excellence,” recently told me to “ditch literature” since “literary fiction is not critical to college success.” Kinsella continued, “What’s represented by the standards is the need to analyze texts rather than respond to literature.

As a teacher working within this regimented environment, my classroom objectives have had to shift.

Wait a second. I’ve never heard of Kinsella. She may be influential in California, perhaps, though even that’s questionable given the size and political dynamics of my mother state.  Her “advice” is ill founded, nor supported by a closer examination of the standards themselves. I’ve addressed this before in my post on The Core Knowledge Blog in 2013:

Under key design considerations in the introduction to the literacy standards, Common Core’s authors state that the inclusion of social studies, science, and technical subjects “reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well” (bold added).

They furthermore point out that “because the ELA classroom must focus on literature (stories, drama, and poetry) as well as literary nonfiction, a great deal of informational reading in grades 6–12 must take place in other classes” (bold added).

Yet within schools, these points are all too easily ignored or misconstrued. ELA teachers are evaluated by the literacy tests that their students are required to take. One of the greatest frustrations of being an ELA teacher, in fact, is that we are tested on factors that are often beyond our control, such as our students’ domain-specific knowledge. It’s no wonder, then, that many ELA teachers resort to skills-based teaching, grimly attempting to boost test scores by bolstering superficial, isolated skills.

Another thing that really gets me, though: what in the world does Kinsella have to do with “this regimented environment” that Godsey refers to, and why in the world has his “classroom objectives … had to shift”? There’s something seriously wrong in Cali if this kind of misunderstanding is translating into such perceptions of edicts from on high.

Godsey then goes on to suggest that this shift is tantamount to a loss of values (“I get it: My job is to teach communication, not values”), and that as a result, he no longer is able to teach wisdom:

When I recently shared a poem that included the phrase, “Let there be light,” hardly any of my students, who are high-school juniors, could identify the allusion. As a staunch believer in the separation of church and state, I don’t feel comfortable delving into the Bible’s wisdom.

Here’s the irony: the Common Core actually makes it fairly clear that students will require knowledge of the Bible in order to determine allusions made to it. Here’s Reading Literature Standard 9, Grade 9-10:

“Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).” 

Arguably, therefore, Godsey is not heeding the advice of the standards because he is not “comfortable” teaching his students to understand that allusion.

He later states that “there is a noticeable deprioritization of literature, and a crumbling consensus regarding the nation’s idea of classic literature.” Yes, there is. Yet though the Common Core only explicitly references Shakespeare and Ovid in the standards themselves, the standards have made a push for “authentic” and “complex” texts, a dramatic shift from what had been generally prevalent in schools driven by a “test prep” or “leveled book” mentality, in which bland passages were provided to students based on their independent reading levels.

The Common Core standards are not to blame for our nation’s problem with classic literature. Can you imagine if the standards had in any way attempted to dictate what type of texts students needed to read? Yeah. And even as carefully crafted as the standards have been to be politically neutral, they have become so volatile that they are said to threaten Jeb Bush’s candidancy for president (which I think is preposterous—if he sticks to his guns he can reach independents and center-left liberals willing to cross over, but whatever).

Godsey then delivers what I consider the most disturbing part of his piece:

I remember when, 10 years ago, my students spent an hour sharing their favorite lines from Father Zossima’s sermon in The Brothers Karamozov and how and why it affected their own lives. One student was visibly moved by the idea that suffering for a loved one might be a blessing available only in a life on Earth, not in heaven. A few different students called it “their favorite class ever.” This morning, my student-teacher—a college student I’m training to be a classroom educator—used a hip-hop poem as a primary text and started the class by saying, “Today we’re going to practice Reading Standards 1, 2, and particularly 4″ in reference to the anchor standards that the students had on their desks. If this sounds a little dry, I’m partly to blame—for a month, he’s been watching me ask the students to explicitly reflect on their progress in each of these technical areas. In any case, with habits like these, he’s sure to land a permanent job in the fall.

Who decided to ask students to “practice Reading Standards 1, 2, and particularly 4″ and provided the “anchor standards that the students had on their desks”? Big brother?

At least Godsey acknowledges some of his culpability (“I’m partly to blame”), but he attempts to redirect it towards blame of some obscure “culture” that he just can’t seem to resist paying heed to.

Being transparent with our students about goals and how they are getting evaluated is fundamental, yet asking them to parrot anchor standards strikes me as a colossal waste of instructional time. It’s up to us—the educators—to interpret and apply the standards in our classrooms in a manner that aligns with our knowledge and expertise and with the intent of the standards themselves.

The Common Core are not responsible for poor instructional decisions nor for poor educational consultants nor for poor administrators. The Common Core are an opportunity for educators to fight for better curriculum for all of our children. Let’s stop blaming the standards, and start using them to better teach the values and wisdom and literature so fundamental to our commonweal.