Do Core promoters ‘get it’ now?

Common Core advocates believe they’re losing the public relations war, while “Moms” are “winning,” writes Stephanie Simon on Politico. So pro-Core forces have decided to appeal to “hearts” rather than minds.

Or, as Neal McCluskey puts it, they’ll “stop being so darn principled.”

Rick Hess is dubious that Core advocates can stop patronizing their critics.

. . . each time the Common Core advocates say, “We get it now,” they make me think that a) they totally don’t get it, and b) they’re about to dig themselves into an even deeper hole.

Here’s his translation:

It’s tricky when we’re so obviously right.

You see, we really want to respect our opponents, but it’s hard when they’re such obvious nitwits.

The fact that they’re such nitwits has suckered us into just coolly sharing the evidence of our overwhelming rightness.

The problem is that all this evidence is too far over everyone’s heads, because they’re just not as sophisticated as we are.

So, we’ve decided we need to offer more sugar, candy, circuses, and heart-tugging appeals in order to really win this thing.

We’d thought push-polling and long-retired Republican governors would suffice, but now we’ve decided we need a national campaign of cute, smiling kids saying, “I WUV the Common Core!”

Core advocates haven’t engaged their “tempered and reasonable” skeptics, writes Hess.  “I see this self-diagnosis as both insulting to us non-advocates and flat wrong.”

There are “legitimate concerns” about Common Core standards, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli. “I’ve never argued that decisions to adopt (or retain) the Common Core are a slam dunk or that you have to be done dumb or crazy to oppose them,” he writes.

Instead of “warm and fuzzy TV ads,” writes Petrilli, proponents should focus on “fixing an education system that continues to tell kids they are doing fine until they find themselves in remedial courses or without a decent paying job.”

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  1. Cranberry says:

    I’d say the resistance is only beginning. It’s not a political issue, and attempts to paint it as such miss the point. The changes wrought by the Common Core are only starting to reach the classroom. Thus, parents are only beginning to notice the changes.

    Expect more comedians to jump on the bandwagon of building routines around Common Core. It will be present in the vast majority of public school classrooms. Most American parents will be asking each other, “what is this stuff?” That’s a huge audience.

    When everyone else is laughing at _you_, I’d say it’s a bit late to try to appeal to “hearts,” nor do I think anyone else will accept the self-portrayal as the smart guys in the room.

    It’s fine to create high, national standards. I’d argue Common Core standards are not those standards. Nothing which ends at Algebra 2, strips literature from the English curriculum, limits teacher autonomy by mandating the study of “core American texts,” and raises the use of audio-visual tools onto equal footing with academic essay writing can pass the test.

    I’ve noticed a “tell” to mark the moment when public education experts have stopped listening to critics. It’s the moment they start portraying their opponents as fear-driven, emotional nitwits. “Yes, we know parents are afraid… Change is scary… (etc.)”

    If national standards were important, why did the group not choose the Massachusetts Frameworks?

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Amen o that – the Mass standard would be a good basisfor national standards. The educational establishment has a tendancy to treat all parents as inept.

    • Cranberry says:

      They do–which is a grave mistake on their part.

      I listen to the Education Gadfly. Many of the regulars earnestly want the best for students. However, there’s a blind spot. The typical ed reform employee seems to have taught for a time, then joined a think tank, or education nonprofit. Very rarely, if ever, do we hear from people who’ve been superintendents or principals, let alone school board chairs. As younger teachers are less likely to teach in middle class suburban districts, the think tank staff is less likely to have encountered middle class or professional class parents.

      Thus, the staff at such places have only encountered parents as the parents of pupils. I would wager they’re more likely to have spoken with parents at the extremes–the parents who want their kids to be rocket scientists, and those who duck the teacher’s phone calls.

      However, in most school districts, parents decide the school’s budget. Parents are the employers, although they don’t act as employers. I’ve read of quite a few tax overrides which either succeeded or failed due to parent enthusiasm. If a school system can’t convince parents it’s a good place to send children, it is likely to flail. The electorate determines school funding; much of the legwork for successful overrides depends upon parents. Good school boards depend upon educated parents.

      I think the ed reformers perceived the nation’s school system to be a unified whole, which could be ruled from above. That’s not true, as they’re now discovering. From a great height, lowering the standards for the most able children may seem to be an adequate tradeoff for raising the standards for the struggling and neglected.

      Unfortunately, they didn’t try to get parent buy-in on that point. Do you think it would have been possible to get parents to agree to short-change their children? I don’t. All the condescending assertions in the world can’t cover up the fact that the Common Core does not raise standards for the children for whom the current system works. And assertions that schools are not required to treat the Common Core standards as a ceiling, that they are free to offer more advanced courses, ignores the pragmatic facts that schools will never have enough money, and that the very idea of tracking is anathema to many school personnel.

      The most advanced children tend to have the most educated parents. The most educated parents pay attention to their children’s curricula and school systems. They know how to organize. They know how politics work. All politics are local.

      • If the public school ed-world and its ed-school and other support groups lose the support of enough of the taxpaying parents (especially the most affluent), it could turn into a big problem. Those people may not be willing, long-term, to fund a system that does not meet the academic needs of their kids. In the “best” suburban communities, the cost of housing is so high that even many of “the rich” can’t afford private schools.

        The removal of separate placements for the most handicapped of the spec ed kids, and their placement in regular classrooms often hurts in two ways; more disruption and less teacher attention for the “regular” kids and a more difficult situation for the spec ed kids, who may be unable to deal well with the social aspects and/or the more-distracting environment, in addition to academic struggles. I get the impression, from parent comments on websites, that both groups are increasingly likely to homeschool, move to another school or move to privates.

        In addition,to the addition of all spec ed kids to “regular” classrooms, there is the removal of leveled grouping of the “regular” kids. Faced with the push for “all” to pass The Test (however impossible that is, at any meaningful level), the top kids are often ignored – because they will pass easily, with even minimal teacher attention. The establishment doesn’t care if they’re bored, even if that causes discipline issues, because providing appropriately challenging work is seen as “elitist” and hurting “diversity”, even if all the kids are the same race/ethnic group. It’s just as important to challenge the kid with an IQ of 105 in a class averaging 88 as it is to challenge the kid with an IQ of 130 in a class averaging 110. All kids deserve appropriate academic work – not just spec ed kids.

        The problem is that any real and rigorous standards, like MA’s, are not open to manipulation to ensure the appearance of equal outcomes.

        • Roger Sweeny says:

          “The problem is that any real and rigorous standards, like MA’s, are not open to manipulation to ensure the appearance of equal outcomes.”

          Well, … no. Outcomes in Massachusetts are measured by statewide MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests that all public school students have to take at various times. One cannot graduate without passing scores in all of them, If the passing scores are set low enough, just about everyone will pass. Right now, “cut scores” are set below what a “real and rigorous standard” would require.

          Right now, scores are put into four boxes, Failure, Needs Improvement, Proficient, and Advanced. The state can say they are being rigorous because so many are in the Needs Improvement box, but all that is required to pass and graduate is to get out of the Failure box. And you don’t have to know much or be very skillful to do that.

          High school diplomas in Massachusetts mean more than they do in a lot of other states, but they do not mean that the holder has met “real and rigorous standards.”

          • I stand corrected. I’ve read that MA’s standards are about the best, but didn’t know details. However, given the widespread need for remediation in “college”, I should have assumed that a HS diploma still doesn’t mean what it once did, even in MA. Maybe if it was politically possible to admit that motivation, family/community culture and cognitive ability all play significant roles in individual/group outcomes, we could return to real standards; not to mention the long-discarded belief that serious vo-tech options are the right path for many kids. Sigh