Math Teacher Malin Williams Speaks Out
I received this email from math teacher and football coach Malin Williams who gave permission to post it with his name.
My name is Malin Williams. I teach math at Enterprise High School in the Washington County School District. This letter is being typed at home on my own computer and on my own time. I did not participate in the essay contest, but have some thoughts that may be useful. If so, use them. These thoughts are my own and in no way am I attempting to speak for any official entity, organization, or individual besides myself.
It is difficult to express myself concerning the common core. There is much “official support” for it. I fear that teachers who oppose the common core may somehow be punished, but my perception is that most teachers do not really want the common core. We want to be allowed to use our professional judgement and serve our students the best way we know how. We welcome professional development which we can use to increase our effectiveness. We chafe at being told “you must” by people who are not in our classrooms and communities.
I have spent a significant amount of time studying the pros and cons of the common core. Many of the math standards are very good. Some are not. (Does a kindergarten student really need to know what a hexagon is…Does he really need to be able to distinguish between whether a shape is two dimensional or three dimensional? Will this cause confusion and frustration unnecessarily?) I am very concerned about Utah losing our ability to control our own educational standards and programs. I am concerned about struggling students being forced from one failing experience to the next. I am equally concerned about our best students being slowed down. I would very much like my own children to be in a school that did not have to worry about federal controls, education standards with inflexible copyrights held by massive cooperatives, data mining, over-emphasizing of coercive testing and compliance, excessive corporate controls, etc.
We are moving ever farther from the small, locally controlled schools that produced our parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Family friendly schools and policies seem to be decreasing. The schools and social forces that produced the greatest nation in the world are disappearing. Will the new experiment work? The farther we get from what made us great, the farther we seem to fall. Hope and individual initiative seem to be decreasing. Can they be successfully replaced by rigid standards and increased bureaucracy? Must our sons and daughters be placed under more distant and more regimented controls? Is federal money so necessary and dear to us? Is parental input so unimportant?
My colleagues can be trusted. We want to feel trusted and empowered. We need to return local control and empowerment to Utah students, parents, and teachers by rejecting the common core. We can do better.
Head Football Coach
Level 4 Math Teacher
Enterprise High School