"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Believe The Lies of Common Core

A couple months ago Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who was a member of the CCSSI validation committee, participated in a panel discussion on common core in Chesterfield Missouri. Recently, she wrote a piece for Pioneer Institute asking the question we have been asking ourselves for a while now - Why are people so willing to believe the lies or misrepresentations put forth by the proponents of common core, even when those claims have been proven false?  Here is some of that piece.
One of the most puzzling phenomena in recent years is the unquestioned acceptance by seemingly rational people of the many claims made by the proponents of Common Core’s standards. The claims have been made repeatedly despite the fact that they have been shown to be either lies or simply utopian hopes. So, what are the lies or the utopian hopes? And why do others repeat these lies or pie-in-the-sky claims about what these standards will achieve?

First, we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor, during the first week in June. Not mentioned at all in the interview or the op-ed he co-authored in the WSJ a week later is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director.

Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked. Neither the methodologically flawed study by William Schmidt of Michigan State University, nor the post-Common Core studies by David Conley of the University of Oregon, all funded by the Gates Foundation, have shown that Common Core’s content is close to, never mind equal to, the level of the academic content of the mathematics and English standards in high-achieving countries. Moreover, Conley’s studies actually contradict the findings of his much earlier pre-Common Core study showing what college faculty in this country expect of entering freshmen in mathematics and English.

Second, we are frequently told that Common Core is about standards and testing, not curriculum. For example, Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser claimed, in an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Friday, June 14, that Common Core’s standards are simply “a matter of testing, not curriculum.” Why, then, is the Bay State’s department of elementary and secondary education running teacher workshops to redesign classroom curriculum for Common Core? Especially when the curricula that were based on the state’s own, first-class standards and own, first-class tests helped to propel the Bay State to first place on NAEP reading and mathematics tests, in both grade 4 and grade 8, and to a tie for first place in grade 8 on an international test. Glaeser did admit he is on the Gates Foundation’s advisory board. Is he obligated to repeat its party line?
 Please read the story in it's entirety here.

I suspect that the reason so many believe them comes right out of Rahm Emmanuel's playbook which states "Never let a good crisis go to waste."  First they create a false crisis in American education. Our education system has its problems, but there is no new "crisis" here. The same problems that plague us now: poverty, the breakdown of the family, the rise of the entitlement state, have been with us for a very long time. The reformers have simply used these conditions to paint a picture of crisis which is then, typically, met with cries to "save us." Anyone who comes and offers something to save us is met with cheers and quickly ushered in. It's not like they would take advantage of the "crisis" like oh, I don't know, roofing companies who magically appear after a particularly bad storm, ask for your money up front promising to fix damage they see on your roof, only to fail to complete the job or never to be seen again.  People believe in common core because they desperately want to believe this will fix the crisis that someone else told them exists. It conveniently addresses two things government can readily change, standards and assessments, leaving teachers to absorb most of the blame if the supposed fixes don't work, while never dirtying the hands of bureaucrats with addressing the real, but politically untouchable, underlying causes of poor education already mentioned.

Your silly facts just confuse the public Dr. Stostky. Why should we listen to you? It's not like you turned around an entire state's education system launching them to the top of the NAEP scores. Oh wait, you did, but then those reformers rode in on their white horse and rescued Massachusetts with Common Core. I hope the Bay State can survive their cure.

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