Background: I teach a flipped AP Gov course. Last night, the assignment was to listen to a short video regarding federalism and mandates. One of the questions I asked them was this:
"Education is a constitutional matter left to the states. Do you agree with the national government becoming involved in education? Use specific examples to justify your answers. Make sure you take into consideration the long range effects of your assertion."
I posed the question to class and immediately almost all 31 hands went up. I initially planned this question taking us under 5 minutes to discuss. Boy was I wrong! (And let me tell you. I am beyond excited I was wrong!)
The students brought in rich detail and a great deal of additional research that fell beyond the scope of video. They compared NCLB and RTTT. They talked indepth about Common Core and the inequity not only within our state but also nationally. The fact that our state requires teachers to have Master's Degrees and some don't. They broached the fact that tests are not necessarily indicative of one's learning or teaching. That such reliance on testing can lead to a narrowed curriculum and emphasis on teaching to the test. They went into great detail about how they are lucky in our state that we have always had a high level of rigor and that in our school in particular, we do everything possible to make sure all of our students are graduating and more important learning. They explained that although the rigor is going to put them ahead, it doesn't meet the needs of all of our students (we have in house 8-1-1 kids who still have to take some state tests).
Our discussion went almost to the bell. 5 minutes became 39. They showed reasoning, critical analysis skills and were able to vocalize their displeasure with the new standards at the same time recognizing that if we are to prepare them for the world they will be facing (instead of the world we all were facing) they must up their game.
I walked away from that conversation in awe of these high school seniors. Most adults could not have a conversation as rich in detail and thought as they did. I am so proud of them!