Sidestepping the Common Core Debate
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:
- GEORGIA: A state representative wants to almost double the size of the state’s tax-credit scholarship, to $100 million in available credits.
- NEW YORK: A new study finds school choice increases local property values by thousands of dollars.
- LOUISIANA: The feds and state are close to a final agreement on how much data the feds will get about voucher applicants. So far, it will include direct, personally identifiable information about those who want vouchers, such as names, addresses, and race.
- 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.
- MISSISSIPPI: An education savings accounts bill for special-needs students has passed its Senate and House committees and now awaits a full vote.
- SOUTH CAROLINA: Gov. Nikki Haley misses an opportunity to really improve education, failing to introduce school choice.
- NEW YORK: In the face of public outcry, the Board of Regents has granted public schools five more years to phase in Common Core and will delay test-tied consequences for teachers by two years.
- SOUTH CAROLINA: State costs for Common Core tests have been released, and they jack up prices. In addition, Gov. Nikki Haley says she’s against Common Core, but she signed a renewal for the state’s participation in Common Core tests.
- UTAH: The country’s second anti-Common Core lawsuit has been filed, this time over a school district refusing to accelerate a gifted child.
- WISCONSIN: The state is ‘in a holding pattern’ on Common Core as lawmakers debate several proposals. A poll finds nearly half of residents know little or nothing about Common Core.
- SOUTH DAKOTA: The state has become the first to reject national science standards.
- THE FUTURE: How the disaggregation of “school” means state tests are almost outmoded.
- UTAH and IOWA: Utah lawmakers debate whether small children belong at home or in government preschool. Iowans debate whether to spend more on preschool.
- ARIZONA: Gov. Brewer wants to charge school districts and charter schools $15 per student to get them broadband.
- FOR-PROFIT: Why for-profits in education are not automatically evil.