Neal McClusky of The Cato Institute wrote an op/ed for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that was published yesterday. He pointed out that all Common Core critics are not extreme. I appreciate his article because it seems as though those who advocate the Common Core would rather label the opposition than actually debate the standards themselves like what we are seeing in Wisconsin.
If you’re an impartial observer reading reports in the politicized aftermath, you might get the impression that all Common Core opponents are either kooks or kook-hired guns. But the reality is the opposite. In fact, education experts from across the political spectrum are taking on — and apart — Common Core.
Unfortunately, the headlines at the end of the hearings had nothing to do with whether Common Core was good for Wisconsin’s children; instead, they were about who covered the expenses of anti-Common Core experts brought in to give their analyses. That could be because some elected Wisconsin officials are spending their time politicizing the debate instead of engaging in honest discussion. Last month, a letter signed by four Democratic state legislators denounced Common Core opponents by associating them with "fringe" groups and "conspiracy theories."
Such marginalization is not confined to the Badger State. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, arguably Common Core’s greatest champion, also has accused its opponents of employing conspiracy theories. And, in a recent op-ed, Michael J. Petrilli and Michael Brickman of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute characterized Common Core opponents as a "small but vocal minority of conservatives" coupled with a bit of "the far left." Read: scary fringe types. It’s worth noting that Petrilli testified in favor of Common Core during the state’s hearings.
Of course, some Common Core opponents do say outlandish things, and in Wisconsin’s case, it doesn’t help that the John Birch Society defrayed the costs of anti-Common Core experts brought to testify. But such sideshows pale in comparison to the highly diverse group of Common Core opponents whom advocates absolutely don’t want to talk about: education experts.
It may come as a surprise to some that Common Core is opposed by scholars at several leading think tanks on both the right and left, including the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Brookings Institution and my own Cato Institute. My research has shown there is essentially no meaningful evidence that national standards lead to superior educational outcomes.
Fordham’s Petrilli is especially bad. Today in a Huffington Post article he said that most of the opposition for the Common Core don’t have kids in the public school. How in the world would he quantify that? And then, so what? I’m a homeschooler, guilty as charged, but I have spoken with many concerned parents who send kids to public school, as well as, those who send kids to private school or who homeschool. We recognize a couple of things. 1. The quality of public education impacts us all, and 2. We are all impacted in some way by the Common Core State Standards.
I know it’s easier to tell us to put on our tin foil hats instead of actually debate the quality, adoption process, costs and content of the standards themselves.