Sidestepping the Common Core Debate

Sidestepping the Common Core Debate
February 12, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

School Choice Weekly #25

You’ve got to give Mike Petrilli credit for repeatedly coming out to debate Common Core while most of its supporters hide behind snarky jabs at parents or dodges like renaming the hotly contested national curriculum and testing mandates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently sent around a blog post of his complaining of those who blow up every ridiculous post-Common Core lesson plan as if Common Core is to blame for teachers who label Abraham Lincoln a liberal or schools that ban kids from using bathrooms too often.

Petrilli has a point here, which is why School Reform News, for which I am managing editor, refuses to publish articles blaming Common Core for things it didn’t directly cause, even though these salacious falsehoods can hook cable shows.

There is no need to make up bad things about Common Core or to lather it with guilt by association, because Common Core is rotten enough all by itself. Hoover Institution fellow Bill Evers demonstrated that in his recent debate with Petrilli on Alabama Public Television. Petrilli was at his best telling how politicians used federally mandated, pre-Common Core tests to lie to the feds, kids, and the public about student achievement. Evers was at his best pushing Petrilli to talk specifics about Common Core, to explain how standards below the best foreign nations and best U.S. states could be honestly labeled “internationally benchmarked,” or explain how it benefits poor and minority kids in states like California to expect them to enter algebra a year later because of Common Core, or how math standards can be “rigorous” if they don’t mention conversion between fractions, decimals, and percentages, which math experts say is crucial for high school math.

It seems to be a tactic of the pro-Common Core crowd to huff at and highlight the outrageous accusations against Common Core as an excuse to avoid answering those who point out its serious, substantive flaws. In collegiate debate, we called that tactic the red herring. It recalls Hillary Clinton’s dodge over a different leadership failure: “What difference does it make?”

Well, as Petrilli said in Alabama, when bureaucrats and politicians lie to families about how well students are learning, it ruins kids’ futures. They can’t read well, have little ability to engage history or literature, have no knowledge by which to navigate their futures and our future country. Further, inching toward a centralized, Soviet-style system of education degrades these kids’ birthright as citizens in a representative republic. If, as Evers charged, Common Core generates the same old deception with a new name – “the college and career readiness illusion” – yet another generation will burn while central planners fiddle.


IN THIS ISSUE:


School Choice Roundup

  • INDIANA: A survey discovers why parents choose voucher schools. Sixty-two percent were seeking better academics, the top-ranked reason, and 57 percent wanted moral instruction, the second-highest reason families chose vouchers.

Common Core Watch


Education Today

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)