Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Common Core Opposition Will Not Be Marginalized

Neal McCluskey of the Cato institute explains why the attempts to marginalize Common Core opponents as crazy people will not work:

The Common Core is opposed by scholars at several leading think tanks on both the right and left-hand side of the political landscape, including the Heritage Foundation, The Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and my own Cato Institute. My research has shown that there is essentially no meaningful evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.

Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek, a well-known education economist and supporter of standards-based education reform, has reached a similar conclusion about likely Core impotence. He recently wrote : "We currently have very different standards across states, and experience from the states provides little support for the argument that simply declaring more clearly what we want children to learn will have much impact."

Hanushek's conclusion dovetails nicely with Common Core opposition from Tom Loveless, a scholar at the left-leaning Brookings Institution. In 2012, Loveless demonstrated that moving to national standards would almost certainly have little, if any, positive effect because the performance of states has had very little connection to the rigor or quality of their standards, and there is much greater achievement variation within states than among them.

In fact, Loveless has been one of the clearest voices saying the Core is not a panacea for America's education woes, writing: "Don't let the ferocity of the oncoming debate fool you. The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students' achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools."

Moving to arguably the far left, prolific education historian Diane Ravitch has also taken on the Core, noting that it is untested, was assembled behind closed doors, and was essentially foisted on schools by the federal Race to the Top funding contest. That it also seems intended to produce huge increases in test failures — as occurred when New York employed Core-aligned tests without Core-aligned curricula — seemed to push Ravitch over the edge.

"This is what we know: the Common Core tests cause a huge decline in test scores. Passing rates fell 30 percent in Kentucky and about the same in New York," Ravitch wrote on her blog recently. "Where are we heading? It won't do to keep saying, as [U.S. Education] Secretary Duncan likes to, that only extremists oppose the standards. Reasonable people question them as well."

There is an extremely well-informed opposition to the Core, and dismissing opponents as loony or selfish does New York's children no service. 

In the beginning, Common Core proponents could marginalize opponents by saying the opposition was just a small minority.

But as the opposition grows, comes from both sides of the political spectrum, and most importantly, is made up of both parents and children, Core proponents can no longer marginalize critics and opponents.

There are still some in the press, in politics or the education establishment who frame the battle as crazies vs. the adults, but they're behind the times and they will find how empty and useless a strategy marginalization is in the coming months.

They can't successfully marginalize a movement that is growing to be the majority.

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