Reading & Reacting: America’s Businesses Need the Common Core

Photo: Gears

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by William Warby

By Allan Golston @ Impatient Optimists

A link to this post from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists website came across my Twitter feed and I was intrigued. Reading it is fascinating, a lesson in spin and corporate conceptions.

The video at the top of the page is a solid lesson in propaganda. Jumping to pretty flawed and hasty conclusions, It explains in simple and plain language, complete with animation, a reason that seventeen nations outscore the United States on PISA is because different states have different standards.

Simplifying the issue in such a way and presenting no other reasons except different standards is dubious and manipulative. Never mind that the United States has been scoring about the same on international tests even before the standards movement swept the nation.

After celebrating business leaders for making a commitment to the Common Core, Golston explains how he led a recent panel for CEOs on how they can “support effective implementation of the standards.” I must say that I wish I was present for such a panel, because I would be fascinated to hear what strategies are being endorsed.

Golston goes on to explain why this is so important.

Now, why would a group of business leaders concern itself with the nitty gritty of standards implementation? Because there is no more urgent work than ensuring that all students graduate high school prepared to succeed in college and career and that’s what the Common Core State Standards are all about.

This is classic hyperbole in an effort to drum up support. There is “no more urgent work” strikes me as being a little over the top, but luckily the Common Core is all about addressing that “urgent work.”

But the truth is the development and voluntary adoption of the common core was a remarkable exercise in bipartisan cooperation led by states. The National Governor’s Association worked with a wide range of experts, educators and other stakeholders to develop a set of rigorous standards in English and math, modeled after our highest performing states. The standards set out what students need to know, but preserves the autonomy of local districts and teachers on how to teach it.

This carefully crafted message continues to be drummed, giving credence to the idea that if a message is heard enough times, people will believe it. Even more interesting to me is the implication that when it comes to educational standards there is a marked difference between experts and educators, not to mention that none of those other stakeholders included K12 educators, subject to implementing the standards, or parents.

What’s more once the federal Department of Education got ahold of the standards that last bit about preserving local autonomy on teaching them started to wane. Race to the Top money insured that the very states that “led the bipartisan effort” would be subject to teacher accountability measures that are beginning to dictate terms of just how implementation is going to look in local districts.

Yet it is one sentence that really has me a bit over the edge about the whole post. It is exactly the kind of slip that is much more revelatory than any of the finely crafted public relations. Galston shamelessly declares, “Businesses are the primary consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural alliance.” Interestingly, the last time I checked that “output” is children and young adults. Not only does the term “output” dehumanize them it makes them a resource to be consumed, like any other resource or commodity.

That in a nutshell is one of the central problems of this rotten Common Core. Here in no uncertain terms Galston, and by relation the Gates Foundation, frame “college and career readiness,” which is what the Common Core is all about,” as producing “output” for business consumption. Children and young adults are simply material for the machine. That very sentiment is beyond distressing in its depravity.

Image: iPad

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