Monday, August 19, 2013

Arne Duncan Approved NY Times Column

I continue to be amazed at how low the bar seems to be for professional writers. Maybe they, rather than we, should be compelled to prove added value with some ridiculous mathematical formula. Even as teachers are under assault nationwide for the egregious offense of devoting their lives to helping children, NY Times writers continue to make many times our salaries without even the most cursory research.

Exhibit A is this column from Bill Keller. While it's ostensibly directed against far right critics of Common Core, and while I agree with his criticisms of their tactics, it's remarkably weak on the actual issues.

...the Common Core was created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators, convinced that after decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education, the country had to come together on a way to hold our public schools accountable.

I'm not precisely persuaded by that. Take a gander at this and you too may wonder who these "educators" are. I'd also question the "embarrassing decline" of education. In fact, if this supposed decline is correlated with test scores, it's fairly easy to see that the lower scores are precisely aligned with high concentrations of impoverished and special needs students. Poverty, of course, is something Bill Gates has determined he can't change, so we're therefore supposed to ignore it.

Keller continues with the Duncan-approved talking points that Common Core is not a federal program, and that there is no national curriculum. In fact, the Common Core standards were highly encouraged by Duncan's Race to the Top. Cash-starved states adopted it, along with junk science evaluation of teachers, so as not to be shut out of the federal support for which their residents paid taxes. It's a bad deal, and will likely result in said states losing money which they'll be forced to devote to even further high-stakes testing.

Most deplorable is the fact that this writer appears totally unaware of the lack of research or field-testing that went into this initiative. As if that were not enough, the writer has no sense of what it means to set up millions of children as failures, particularly with tests with inappropriate and ridiculous standards.

The fact is it isn't simply right-wingers who oppose Common Core, and Keller makes a brief nod to that. But Keller appears unable to differentiate between the issues of health care and reformy education, and shows no evidence he's even familiar with their history. Destroying public education used to be the exclusive province of the extreme right, but groups like DFER have bought enormous influence over faux-Democrats, who now push ridiculous union-busting anti-middle class nonsense.

I'm frankly amazed that people with so little evident curiosity can make a living writing.
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