Jim Stump and the Fight to Inform the Public About “Common Core”
Jim Stump was born amidst the fanfare of Hollywood, but he is actually not a man that enjoys the spotlight. He much prefers to do his work quietly behind the scenes and would describe himself more as a foot soldier in the trenches than a general calling the shots. Much of the work Jim has done in those trenches revolves around education. He spent 23 years employed by LA Unified School District at times serving as Department Chair and Union Representative. As a veteran advocate for education, he recently took on the charge of helping to educate people with regard to Common Core and how it’s being implemented in our local schools.
That effort is timely as the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) is set to begin a new year with an increased focus on implementing the Common Core. TUSD has been trying to inform concerned parents about Common Core through formal informational sessions held throughout last year. One of Jim’s concerns, however, is that much of this information, such as the TUSD presentation found here, provides only top-level talking points and leaves parents with lingering questions as they struggle to understand the details of the Program.
To help parents in that regard, Jim Stump has helped organize a local group calling themselves South Bay Common Core Watch. The aim of the organization is to help educate the community on some of the details of the Common Core Program as well as provide a forum where parents can collaborate and share experiences their children are having at their respective schools.
Common Core is often sold simply as a Program that standardizes curriculum and helps students to think critically by focusing more on the thought process than the answer. While Jim believes there are many good things about the Program, there are some aspects of Common Core that has caused him concern.
For example, one aspect of Common Core is increased testing. Under the Program, students may be shuttled to a computer lab for testing as much as once per week. This could take away from needed classroom instruction. Teacher performance will also be more closely tied to student test performance causing teachers to focus “on teaching to the test.”
A much larger concern is that students may be subject to psycho-metric testing. Mixed in with the usual academic questions, students may also be asked questions designed to evaluate their behaviors and tendencies. The information gained through this type of testing can be stored and later analyzed by the government to create a lifetime psych profile of the student. Potentially the government could then use that information to discriminate for things like admission into the military or other government employment. It could also be used as selection criteria into elite universities.
Another concern is the distortion of the standard curriculum. Subtle changes are appearing in critical subjects like sex education and U.S. history. Where previously teachers were instructed to focus on aspects of World II like the rise of Nazi Germany and the atrocities committed against Jews, they might now instead focus on how the war provided opportunities for women and minorities to improve their socioeconomic positions and how dropping the atomic bomb raised questions about American values.
Jim would also like parents to know their rights. Parents can opt out of Common Core testing and take other measures if they are concerned. How exactly Common Core will be implemented within TUSD is not totally clear at this point. One thing that is certain, however, is that Jim Stump will continue to work behind the scenes to make sure the public is informed about what exactly this new curriculum entails.
To learn more check out the South Bay Common Core Watch Facebook site below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign-up and receive weekly newsletters on Common Core.