By Diane Ravitch @ CNN’s Opinion blog
In her new op-ed piece, Diane Ravitch summarizes a number of current trends and troubles involving the Common Core and why resistance is gathering apace.
Beginning with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent “white suburban moms” comments, which he sanctimoniously dismissed as clumsy phrasing, Ravitch highlights both his zealotry and disingenuous characterization of CCSS success.
Duncan likes to boast that the Common Core standards were adopted by 45 states, but neglects to mention that the states were required to adopt “college-and-career-ready standards” to be eligible for $4.35 billion in the education secretary’s signature program called Race to the Top.
It seems to me, this point doesn’t seem to be raised enough. I can only think of two other instances in recent memory where the federal government essentially did an end run around legal obstacles to coerce states into doing exactly as it wanted. Both the speed limit and drinking age were brought into line with a huge financial contingency used as leverage. Yet neither of those acts seemed nearly as significant as how our children will be educated. Ironically, this is a tactic used by an administration that assured the American people during the shutdown that it will not negotiate with hostage takers.
Yet, now the dust is beginning to settle and states are starting to reckon with exactly what they have signed onto doing regarding to the Common Core. Additionally, parents, students, and educators have started resisting. Meanwhile, Duncan and the rest of the edrformy crew can do little but engage in petty name calling, trying to characterize all opposition as at best out of touch and at worst pejorative epithets.
What Ravitch successfully does in the piece is turn the light back on Duncan and his cronies, highlighting just how tyrannical and undemocratic the CCSS rollout is, which should be enough to get a response from anyone. Yet, she continues, explaining that she is not the only one that believes the standards and their reliance on high-stakes testing to be flawed.
Standards alone can’t right everything that needs fixing in American education, and some experts, like Tom Loveless at Brookings Institution, say they will make little or no difference in student achievement.
The truth is that no one knows whether the Common Core will or won’t make a difference. That is kind of the point every advocate seems to ignore. Nevertheless, the United States Department of Education is not interested in getting caught up on small details like testing the new standards to be sure. Instead they have chosen to essentially rely on extortionist tactics, which only serves to make more compelling the question why?
It becomes hard not to be highly skeptical or cynical. More and more, it seems like the Common Core was never designed to be used by teachers as much as on them, as Peter Greene recently commented.
Add to all that a follow-the-money mantra, and it becomes increasingly hard to see just how the standards can be separated from the tests and all those that look to gain from the new system.
By the way, it seems pretty clear that those in line to gain the most are not students. Diane Ravitch has captured the fact that all those parents catching on to these mounting facts are growing angry, as they ought to be, not because “they found out their child wasn’t brilliant, but because most were told by their state that their children were failures.”
When two thirds of the students fail a test, my colleagues and I have to seriously ask ourselves questions about the test, as the state of New York should have done instead of getting stuck in and self-righteous. That is precisely the kind of thing that makes parents angry. If New York was the test case, which went horribly wrong, are they likely to be the only one? Unlikely.