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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Are Returns Accepted at the Common-Core Store?

Have you shopped for kid's toys recently?  It may not be so very different, in some ways, than shopping for kid's curricula or schools.  Last weekend, I found myself in a toy shop in search of that elusive gift for an eight-year-old birthday boy.  When you specialize in little girls, this task takes on monumental proportions.  They no longer make the toys with which your brothers played forty and fifty years back.  Then, you see a glow-hockey box and you begin to glow.  

Too cool to believe!  Flashbacks of a table-sized Air Hockey game, much thanks owed to Santa in December of '79.  It warmed your house in those weeks leading up to the amazing Lake Placid games of February 1980.  You remember the Miracle on Air Hockey.

I pulled the hockey game from the shelf, examined it from all sides and leaned towards the register.  Then, I heard that little voice in my ear:  "If it's too good to be true, it probably is."  I pulled out my phone and Googled the reviews.  

Some liked the toy, but there seemed to be a dominant thread of thought running through several reviews.  It went something like this:  "Spent 35 mins trying to install batteries.. Screws stripped.. Finally got installed and attempted to play.. Not enough air power, discs wouldn't go from one end of court to the other.. neon effects ok.. but not worth the money in long run."

So, it seems the product has obvious flaws from the viewpoint of some concerned and coherent consumers.  What a let down!  An ice rink has melted before your eyes.  It is only one in a string of product reviews which you have found wholly unsettling in your career as part-time Santa Claus.  With patented technology and trademarks to support these products, they still sit on store shelves, ready to fool even Santa Claus himself.  Kind of like the Common Core with its copyright and all?

Businessmen can design a product that sounds super.  It might be a common curriculum, and it might be packaged right with a lot of advertising, but the real test comes in consumer satisfaction.  If it's minimal and you keep pushing your product, helping to overcome its shortcomings with gigantic grants to make some people's heads spin, then it's a pretty sad commentary on the mentality of the business world.  It reflects an inability or unwillingness to listen to consumers and a degree of desperation to buy a market.  It may be a new form of educational imperialism.  Pull out all the money from underneath the Core.  You will find it is no magic carpet.

And, yes, charters get some mighty fine reviews and I am sure that good things happen in many charter classrooms.  But how many reviews have you read from the disappointed parents and students who have been shunned, overly suspended and then counseled to leave by third grade?  I, for one, would like to know the truth behind the attrition rates at charter schools.  Do most students leave amicably after changing residence, as the charters would have us believe, or is something far more pernicious happening?  Let me see the reviews of those who quietly disappear from the class registers.  Let me see how many stars on average they give KIPP or Success or the Harlem Children's Zone.  I fear their worst policies have now rubbed off on schools like Boys and Girls.  I am afraid we are working with new and demented formulas for achieving Success.  

6 of 6 people found the following review of this charter school helpful

The Common Core may sound great to those who profit by it, send their kids to private schools or have no young children, but in most other people's world, it flops.  Perhaps the people who love the Core are like the people who pick a toy off a shelf, hear about the child's delight after unwrapping it, perhaps even see it, and assume five stars.  But they don't stick around long enough to have much first-hand experience with the product.  They never hear about the motor breaking after an hour of use--or some other malfunction. 

"Gave this to my nephew for his 5th Birthday on 8/9 and just found out from my brother-in-law that the game was great but after about an hour of play the motor burned out. Can a replacement be sent??"

I don't expect a refund on the Core and I definitely don't want a replacement.  I don't even want a rewrite if it means one curriculum imposed upon all nationwide--even if teachers can have their hand in creating the product and now share in the blame.  How about just a return?  You can even keep any and all store credits!

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