Common Core State Standards “and standardized testing are trying to make teachers into KAPOs, a Nazi concentration camp prisoner who was given privileges if they would supervise work gangs,” wrote a reader commenting on Diane Ravitch’s blog. She goes on to reference Schindler’s List and her relatives killed in the Holocaust.
When readers objected to the analogy, Ravitch wrote: “I find this argument to be a form of political correctness that is used to censor opinion. If anyone wants to use an analogy to make a point, that is their choice.” She defended the posting on Twitter as a free speech issue.
This isn’t about political correctness or censorship, responds Daniel Willingham.
First, he writes, the analogy trivializes enormous suffering. Test takers are not in any way like Holocaust victims just as students asked to perform public service are not comparable to slaves.
If a reformer said schools are concentration camps where teachers brutalize their students . . . It’s insulting, isn’t it?
Willingham also disagrees that it’s censorship to tell people you think their analogy is “ill-considered and offensive.”
. . . if she had asked the author to change the analogy or had refused to post the piece because of the analogy, I would not call that censorship. The author does not have a guaranteed right to post what she likes in Diane’s blog, a right that Diane would have been infringing. Diane was a offering a platform for this author’s voice, and obviously she offers that platform to voices she thinks are worth amplifying.
This situation is not comparable to that documented in The Language Police, in which enormous power was concentrated in the hands of few publishers. If an author wanted to publish a textbook they had to toe the line drawn by the publishers or give up on publishing the book. That power relationship does not exist in this case. This is the internet, for crying out loud.
He asks Ravitch to rethink her position.
I agree with Willingham. I’d add that the analogy is ridiculous and therefore unpersuasive.