By Vicki E. Alger @ US News Opinion
I saw this editorial before the Christmas and wanted to comment. I am no fan of the Common Core for a variety of reasons I have expressed on this blog and more. In this editorial Alger too opposes the Common Core but for all the wrong reasons. In fact, she laments the political agenda she claims is embedded in the CCSS, only to advocate an even more politically charged alternative.
Yet American education is moving in the opposite direction toward one-size-fits-all schooling thanks in no small part to the Common Core national standards. Savvy education consumers should reject this growing centralization and start demanding from education what they demand from every other industry sector: more innovation and personalization.
In what is essentially the thesis of her argument, Alger shows her colors right away with her use of “innovation and personalization,” two keywords from the edreform playbook attacking public education.
While she is correct that states had little choice in adopting the Common Core, if they wanted any share of federal money with its tangled web of attached strings. She is also correct that many states now have misgivings. However, that is about the end of her accuracy and attention to facts.
She begins citing testimony in the Texas debate about adopting the CCSS. Of course, Alger isn’t completely forthright with that fact, only following the links reveal this. Texas is one of the handful of states that did not adopt the Common Core and might be one of the grandest stages for educational politics in the country. Apparently this is the warrant for her next claim.
Unsurprisingly, the approved curriculum is advancing a partisan political agenda, showcasing pro-labor union and pro-universal health care materials, along with more graphic, adult-themed books under the auspices of promoting diversity and toleration. The problems don’t stop there.
Nothing like getting the terms right in the debate. Despite my opposition to the Common Core and its more insidious curricular intentions, it is not a curriculum. This is the first conflation that any informed reader should be able to identify in discrediting an argument on the issue. Still her “problems don’t stop there” either.
I have been reading the ELA document for a few years now and I am hard pressed to find the “pro-labor union and pro-universal health care materials,” although I would like it if there were. As for “more graphic, adult-themed books” I am not sure that any titles suggested even get close to some of the more contestable choices that schools have already been using. What’s more, I am wondering what Alger’s problem would be with “promoting diversity and toleration”? She makes it sound almost morally reprehensible.
Other links included in her criticism are from the oh-so-unbiased sources of education information, the EducationNext and Pioneer Institute. No partisanship there, despite any declarations to the contrary.
Then she switches to the whole data collection issue, which has been hotly discussed but little understood.In fact, there is very little actual information about this that has really made its way into the mainstream media. Moreover, it is aspect that already seems doomed to greater failure than the health care system rollout. So, this pretty firmly yet to be determined issue.
Nevertheless, all Alger’s proposes as potential alternatives involves a laundry list from the edreformy agenda: parental choice, private schools, vouchers, and school competition. It is as if she was working from a talking points checklist.
Interestingly, she supplies no links or sources for any of the alleged evidence that she offers as support for these grand schemes. Yet, that doesn’t stop her from dropping gems like this, “Scientific research consistently shows that participating students [in parent choice programs] have higher graduation and college attendance rates, as well as higher reading and math scores, than their peers.” Never mind citing any of that “scientific research” or from where it comes.
Ultimately, Alger falsely believes that somehow parental choice leads to innovation and personalization but fails to support how any of it is actually connected. In her view it all seems that simple. Yet, for all her charges of a political agenda in the Common Core, she writes with a pretense as if she is void of one. She isn’t and far from it.