Here in my home in Lorain County, Ohio, people were thrilled to see one of our own teachers in the running for the search for America’s Top Teacher by the Live with Kelly and Michael show.
Stacie Starr was nominated by a grateful parent:
“Please consider Stacie Starr for your contest. She is the hardest working, most selfless woman I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Verlotti wrote to close out the letter that detailed her son’s struggles after a diagnosis at age 3 of Asperger syndrome and how it affected his school life.
Starr was already known within the district as a top teacher. She started a boys group and personally mentored a group of at-risk boys. She said the highlight of her career was “the moment – watching those young men who started out as a group of at-risk boys walk across the stage to finish their high school careers with diplomas in hand – that let her know her job as a teacher had purpose.”
Elyria was ecstatic when Starr made the cut to 5 semi-finalists, and then ultimately won the Top Teacher award. The high school received a new electronic scoreboard for the stadium and Starr was awarded a new car.
Starr made a huge difference in the lives of those young men and so many other students, and was recognized nationally for her amazing work.
It came as a great shock then yesterday, that Starr said she would be resigning from teaching because of the new Common Core standards that have been implemented in Ohio. From the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram:
Gasps of disbelief followed the announcement made during an education forum aimed at unraveling for parents the intricacies of the standardized testing system. Starr was at the podium, delivering a talk on how special education students are suffering under the new system based on Common Core standards and more rigorous assessments. She said as a veteran intervention specialist at Elyria High School, she could no longer watch silently from within the confines of a structured school day.
If the crowd in the room was any indication, Starr will not be alone. Other teachers spoke of their desire to leave education or told stories about how colleagues want to walk away.
“I’m like you. I feel like I have to get out,” said Jackie Conrad, a third grade teacher.
Cleveland’s NewsNet 5 also broadcast the story.
This school year was my first personal experience with the new teaching methods. I have a degree in engineering, so I obviously took a lot of advanced math classes at the college level. My 13 year old son’s math homework contains new processes and terms that I have never seen before, and certainly wouldn’t ever consider using.
Parents and conservatives have been fighting against Common Core for years, but now even the large teachers’ unions such as the NEA and AFT have also come out to say that the new teaching material is going to hurt kids. Both unions formerly supported Common Core but have pulled back their support.
Last year in Ohio, a bill was introduced to repeal the Common Core standards in the state, but it spent most of the year being held hostage in the Education committee by Rep. Gerald Stebleton (R-Lancaster), a Republican who supports the program, exclaiming that Common Core opponents “don’t know what they’re talking about.” The bill never reached the House floor before the session ended in December.
Republican lawmakers now tell me that there may be multiple, smaller bills to incrementally repeal parts of Common Core one at a time, instead of another large sweeping bill.
But they face another hurdle in Governor John Kasich, who is a supporter. Kasich insists that local school boards are still in control, even though the standards were developed out of the public eye by National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. He has criticized conservatives and fellow Republican governors for opposing Common Core, suggesting that their opposition is purely political.
However, most parents who have talked to their local teachers and school officials find that they do not feel at all that they have any input on the standardized tests or the methods of teaching them.
When a nationally recognized, dedicated and hard working teacher like Ms. Starr feels like she needs to throw in the towel and resign her life’s work because these new tests and standards are preventing her from teaching her students, it’s time for politicians to stop dismissing parents’ and teachers’ concerns and start listening.