At this point I don’t want to write another word about Common Core supporters’ cheap rhetorical tactics. Unfortunately, a new op‐ed by Chester Finn and Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation demands it. And this after AEI’s Rick Hess took Core defenders to task for their excesses, then kindly offered some helpful advice on how to at least have an honest conversation. Why didn’t the Fordham folks listen to Rick? Coulda saved me a lot of trouble.
Anyway, four things particularly stick out in Fordham’s piece, published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, though many others are dubious:
- The piece starts off by, essentially, smearing all opponents of the Core as carpet‐bagging liars. The very first line reads: “For some time now, outside groups have been vigorously spreading misinformation about the Common Core state standards.” The goal here is, presumably, to declare opponents devious right off the bat, and compound that by asserting that they are all icky non‐Wisconsinites. Never mind that Finn and Petrilli, to my knowledge, aren’t from the Badger State, and have definitely lived in the Washington, DC, area for years.
- A major complaint of Core supporters is that critics blame things like data‐mining and curricular control on the Core which aren’t, technically, in it. They are intimately connected through Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers, which intentionally place the Core in broader pushes for evaluation, data collection, etc., but no, they aren’t actually in the Core. It is apparently fine, though, to proclaim that the Core by itself “demands accountability, high standards and testing,” as Finn and Petrilli do. The difference, of course, is that Finn and Petrilli favor the Common Core, and the Common Core is great!
- Finn and Petrilli offer a tiny, non‐concession concession to people who have decried the massive federal coercion that drove Core adoption, noting that “many conservatives are justifiably angry about the inappropriate role the Obama administration has played in promoting and taking credit for these standards.” But the thing is, Obama didn’t just promote and take credit for the Common Core. He implemented concrete federal policies that essentially told states that if they didn’t adopt Common Core they couldn’t get part of a $4.35 billion pot of money, and it would be harder to get out of the absurd demands of No Child Left Behind. If Finn and Petrilli want to be forthright, they need to actually write the words “Race to the Top” and “waivers,” and explain exactly what they did. But they don’t even mention them!
- Finally, it is simply wrong to suggest that the Obama administration went all lone wolf on Core supporters. Why? Because, as I have discussed repeatedly, the report Benchmarking for Success, from the groups that created Common Core, came out in 2008 — before there was an Obama administration — and called on the federal government to “incentivize” adoption of common standards. In other words, they wanted the Feds to twist arms all along!
I hate it when Common Core supporters — from Wisconsin, DC, or anywhere else — misinform the public. Especially when their first move is to drop the deceiver card on their opponents.