Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, August 19, 2013

Education Reformers Are Trying To Smear Common Core Critics As Know-Nothings And Cretins

Former NY Times editor and current columnist Bill Keller attacked opponents to the Common Core standards as a "very loud, often paranoid, if-that-Kenyan-socialist-in-the-White-House-is-for-it-I’m-against-it crowd." 

Keller acknowledges that there are opponents to the standards on the left "but overwhelmingly the animus against the standards comes from the right."

While the Michelle Malkin-Glenn Beck contingent against Common Core may be the loudest opposition group to the Core, we've begun to see opposition to the Common Core rise up from people of all political backgrounds.

Just this past week, more than 1,500 parents, students and teachers protested the Common Core in Port Jefferson, with nary a "loud, often paranoid, if-that-Kenyan-socialist-in-the-White-House-is-for-it-I’m-against-it-type" in the crowd.

Indeed, even in the comments to Keller's Times column, people make reasoned arguments criticizing the Core.

Here is one:

I'm all for a set of standards. They are necessary and proper. But setting standards alone is pointless unless there is a more equitable way to fund local school districts, so that all kids get at least a fighting chance. At this point, poor districts stay poor and rich districts keep adding more tennis courts. In fact, to be more fair, it's probably the case that the schools in areas of great and persistent poverty should get a greater share of school funding, because those kids, by dint of dysfunctional families, drug use, a social fabric which eschews school and education -- and other factors, need extra help.

 Here is another:

Everyone in my successful middle-class family is a product of public education. I would love to send my child to our neighborhood public school, but chronic underfunding, a demoralized staff, and focus on testing above any other considerations has kept us from exercising that option.

Standardized testing is like the monster that ate public education. Parents all over are taking their children out of public schools in droves, opting for whatever alternatives they can find. Homeschooling is not just for fundamentalists anymore. Libertarians everywhere cheer.

The idea of a basic curriculum taught to all American students, a standard which children would be expected to meet when they graduate, is a desirable and admirable one. Common Core may be a great program, but without properly preparing teachers and schools to implement the standards as well as properly supporting teachers and schools economically, high-stakes testing is just another page of "No Child Left Behind". It’s interesting to note that high-stakes testing is conspicuously absent from private schools.

Now with information coming out about the corrupt practices of the for-profit companies doing the grading for these high stakes tests, what am I, as a parent supposed to believe about the integrity of schools that rely on testing mills for their very existence?

Can we at least start by taking the corrupting motive of profit out of education? Profit-making from public education ought to be strictly banned.

And another:

The concept of a common core is long overdue. Bill Keller is right on target when he points out that children moving from one state to another should not be plunged into confusion with every move. Colleges and employers all around the country should be able to know what a high school diploma represents, no matter which state it comes from.

But please, spare us this nonsense about every child should be prepared to enter college. Before issuing edicts about that every child must do, and on what timetable, you need to spend a week in each of two first grade classrooms: first a top-flight suburban school, then a poverty-stricken rural one.

And apart from economic variation, there is just simple human variation. If you set ten healthy, well-nourished children on a race track, would you insist that they all reach the finish line together? Would you be surprised (shocked! shocked!) if they didn't?


Sorry, Mr. Keller, but you are mistaken. The Common Core Standards were absolutely not - repeat, not - "created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators". They were in fact created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association, and educators - at least teachers - had precious little to do with them.

And this:

I know as many Republican teachers in our public school system as Democrats. I don't think trying to instill literacy and mathematical competence is a "leftist" conspiracy. Rather, the impact of ALEC-written state legislation that systematically funnels taxpayer money away from public schools to for-profit and sometimes religious charter schools (that in Ohio perform much lower than the public schools) is a sad conspiracy to gut public education.

 And finally:

Normally, I enjoy Mr. Keller's columns, but this time he's completely wrong or terribly misinformed. 
The Common Core was NOT written by educators, but a cadre of well funded "education policy makers" backed by a set of governors and foundations who champion privatization of public education. They are also making enormous sums of money from the "forced embrace" of the Core through the Obama/Duncan requirement that each state accept them simply for eligibility to compete for Race to the Top Funding. Mr. Keller blindly accepts that this will "improve educational outcomes" and that the reformers (i.e., Rhee, Jeb Bush, Gates, the Waltons, Broad, Coleman & hedge fund managers who "invest" in these efforts through charter networks) are involved for altruistic purposes. Nothing could be further from the truth! They constantly distort their claims by cherry-picking statistics, or by ensuring that those students who are "marginal" (e.g., students with disabilities and English language learners) are either not accepted at their charter schools or "encouraged to leave" afterwards, thereby enhancing their "positive results."

This situation is not a "right-wing" nor "leftist" plot. It is what happens when the public is being deliberately disinformed by the charlatans who parade themselves as Common Core supporters and "reformers."

The pushback on Common Core opposition that is coming in the media and from the political establishment is to tar every critic of the national standards and assessment movement as crazed Tea Partiers and Know-Nothings out of Inherit The Wind.

But the truth is, there is reasoned opposition to the Common Core coming from both right and left, coming from parents and teachers, coming from students.

We will not let the Common Core proponents smear the opposition movement or critics as a bunch of Know-Nothings or the "very loud, often paranoid, if-that-Kenyan-socialist-in-the-White-House-is-for-it-I’m-against-it-crowd."

Sorry, Mr. Keller, those students, parents and teachers in Port Jefferson weren't cretins opposed to "holding students to high standards and an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic."

They were critics to a rigged testing process and a Common Core curriculum that was imposed from far, funded by corporate backers and test makers who stand to make billions from the standards, and promoted by education reformers who are looking to label the public school system as "failing" so that they can "solve" the so-called education problem by charterizing and privatizing public schools all over the nation.


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  2. Excellent responses to the Times whitewash.

    It's important that we not allow them to cast us all as birther nut-jobs with delusions about President Obama's actual religion.

    Regardless of whether the right pointed this out first, Common Core was not sanctioned by any elected body. It was created by a closed group of sixty, not chosen by government officials. And no venue or method has been set for a public revision means.
    You don't have to be a nut-job righty to be disturbed by the hi-jacking of the democratic process. NCLB was voted on by Congress, so what were Obama/Duncan so afraid of when they "enacted" CCSS and Race to the Top without Congressional approval?

    Readers, don't accept the mistruth that teachers were involved. No teachers were involved in writing the standards. Only one, a middle school math teacher, was involved at the review or validation stage.

    This was all done at the behest of the Gates Foundation, which shoveled millions of dollars upon the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

    This project has made a dizzying set of left and right pro-corporate political bedfellows, as charted out here.