Monday, September 30, 2013

Used Car Salesmen Wouldn't Try to Sell Me This

On the editorial page of the Sunday 9/22 Detroit Free Press is a local commentary purporting to show "6 conservative reasons for Common Core" by two conservatives. They are identified as "Chester E. Finn jr. and Michael J. Petrilli are, respectively, president and executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-of-center education policy think tank. Finn served in the Reagan administration. Petrilli served in the George W. Bush administration. Both are affiliated with the Hoover Institution."

Obviously these gentlemen are neocons, liberals who couldn't stand the consistency of the leftists in their political circles. But that is beside my main point. The entire article is based on the premise that the responsibility for education lies with the government instead of the market. This in turn is based on a more sinister premise: that your child belongs to the state. It talks about how "Michigan has been lauded for its education reform efforts..." "Michigan" here means Michigan government not Michigan citizens. Let's remember government is force. It forces kids to attend and forces citizens to pay for the education of their kids as well as the kids of others.

The article then makes the claim that "The Common Core arose as a state initiative..." Umm, not really. From a website www.stopcommoncoreinMichigan.com.

"Just because states "agreed" to adopt these standards does not mean they were state-led. The federal contractor-National Governors' Association, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation & the Chief Council of State School Officers sign-off on CCSS gives the appearance that they were state-led, but national standards have been pushed by special interests, for decades, since the Clinton era."

So who might these special interests be? From Michelle Malkin at Townhall.com:
"Can you spell b-o-o-n-d-o-g-g-l-e? Remember: Bush’s educational foundation, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, is tied at the hip to the federally funded testing consortium called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which raked in $186 million through Race to the Top to develop nationalized tests “aligned” to the top-down Common Core program.
One of the Bush foundation’s behemoth corporate sponsors is Pearson, the multi-billion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate. Pearson snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of PARCC test items. The company holds a $250 million contract with Florida to design and publish its state tests. Pearson designed New York’s Common Core-aligned assessments and is also the exclusive contractor for Texas state tests.
And in Los Angeles this summer, Pearson sealed a whopping $30 million taxpayer-subsidized deal to supply the city’s schools with 45,000 iPads pre-loaded with Pearson Common Core curriculum apps. That’s $678 per iPad, $200 more than the standard cost, with scant evidence that any of this shiny edu-tech will do anything to improve the achievement bottom line.
As with all political posers who grab power under the guise of doing it “for the children,” don’t read their lips. Follow the money."
Ms. Malkin has several articles on the nature of Common Core and I recommend you read them.

Now the gentlemen give us their 6 conservative reasons for Common Core. The first is:
Fiscal responsibility. "The Common core protects taxpayer dollars by setting world-class academic standards for student achievement--and taxpayers and families deserve real results for their money." This is laughable. While this last phrase is true, families deserve real results for their money, government has never made anything cheaper than the market place nor given taxpayers their money's worth on anything. Amtrack, the Post Office, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Public education just to name a few, are all broke and massive failures. But we're to believe Common Core will help the government get it right this time? Conservative reason #2:

Accountability. "Common core demands accountability, high standards,and testing--not the low expectations and excuses that many politicians and the establishment have permitted. The Core standards are pegged at a high level, which will bring a healthy dose of reality to the education reform conversation." Nowhere in the article is it explained exactly how these high, more rigorous standards will achieve all these desirable goals. We are to trust that it just jolly well will. Good luck getting the teacher unions to kneel down to these stricter standards imposed by such well meaning bureaucrats. Conservative reason #3:

School choice. "Doesn't it force a "one-size-fits-all approach onto schools? The short answer: no. Standards describe what students are expected to know and be able to do. Written correctly [according to what standard? MN] they do not dictate any particular curriculum, or pedagogy. Plus, the information that comes from standards-based testing gives parents a common yardstick with which to judge schools. In the end Common Core is not a national curriculum--the standards were written by governors and local educators." It's nice that CC gives parents a common yardstick by which to judge schools. Evidently parents have never had one before! Truth is, parents, watching their kids fail to learn to read, write and do simple math have used a common sense standard to determine that public education has been a colossal failure. Nor is having a choice between bad schools a desirable goal. Conservative reason #4:

Competitiveness. "If we don't want to cede the 21st Century to our economic and political rivals--China especially--we need to ensure that many more young Americans emerge from high school truly ready for college and a career that allows them to compete in the global marketplace." While it's true that students need to be able to compete for global jobs, Common Core is not going to achieve that. Common Core is nothing more than the government stamping its feet demanding that kids learn and teachers teach or else. Or else what? Where's the teeth? Where is enforcement? By whom? No mention in the article or any other I've seen. Conservative reason #5:

Innovation. "The core standards are encouraging investment from states, [our tax dollars-MN]philanthropic groups and private firms--which is producing Common Core-aligned textbooks, e-books, professional development, online learning and more." I'm all for more online learning. But textbooks is where curriculum lives. The curriculum in those pages will have to be re-aligned to meet CC testing standards. What's going to be added? Subtracted? What is this re-alignment going to look like? No answers. This gives the lie to the claim that CC won't affect curriculum. Conservative reason #6:

Traditional education values. "Common Core standards are educationally solid. They are rigorous, they are traditional--one might even say they are "conservative." [This sales pitch is really stretching it.-MN] "We see the Common Core as a great conservative triumph.[???] They don't give in to moral relativism, blame-America-first, or so many other liberal nostrums that have infected our public schools." That is fantastic!!! I'm ecstatic! It means multiculturalism, egalitarianism, diversity, equality of outcome, all of which are based on moral relativism, will be finally banned from our public schools!! Pinch me. I must be dreaming. Ouch! I guess I am dreaming. Sigh.

Conservative triumph? An Owellian term for sure. But before closing I want to point out that CC calls for psychometric testing. This in my view will test students as they go through school to see what they are best suited to do in the work place. Their education will be tapered to an occupation designed for them by the educational bureaucrats. That is the real future goal of CC.

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