Reading & Reacting: War on the Core

By Bill Keller @ The New York Times

Perhaps there is more to the resistance to the Common Core after all, if formerNew York TImes editor-in-chief Bill Keller feels compelled to pen an editorial on the subject in The Grey Lady.

Most interesting in his piece is that he uses the Common Core as a hammer against conservatives and the Republican Party. While it is true there is a conservative contingent that opposes the Common Core for various reasons, highlighted by Keller. The truth is that is not the only other opposition. That number is growing and comes from all over the political spectrum. He does acknowledge this fact all too briefly in a single paragraph.

What is more disheartening is that while clearly in support of the Common Core, Keller falls into all of the typical media cliches in doing so. Thus, there is a focus on extremes, offering a faux contrast, as he cites Glenn Beck and others clamoring against it. He also gathered his requisite expert in the field from a conservative think tank, Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute, who spout the anti-education, Common Core talking points.

Furthermore in his itemized refutation, he continues to make declarations with the thinnest of evidence, like “the Common Core is not some new and untried pedagogical experiment. Much of it leans on traditional methods that have proved themselves over time. Kids are taught phonics in the early grades. They learn times tables and memorize the formulas for areas and volumes.” Forget the examples are really more content and less methodology.

Really? This is the best that someone of Keller’s journalistic stature can summon? Honestly, I am worn out with mainstream media always avoiding the murkier and grayer aspects of an issue by sourcing outliers in the debate. Plus, when did it become a requirement that some conservative think tanker from DC is an expert on education in any major news outlet? That alone is enough for me to dismiss an article on its grounds. It is just plain, poor journalism, lazy to me. Then, of course the evidence he employs doesn’t even make the grade. It is all pretty shabby.

Perhaps my favorite flaw is in his conclusion, when he uses this zesty quote to set himself up for a finish line.

“Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards and an academic curriculum based on great works of Western civilization and the American republic,” two education scholars, Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern, wrote in _National Review Online_. “Aren’t they still?”

Good question.

Yes, and conservatives were also the ones that were in favor of completely destroying the Department of Education during the Contract with America years. I wonder if Keller remembers or has simply forgotten that?

Image: iPad

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