Duncan to News Editors: This is How You Should Report on Common Core

Filed in Common Core State Standards by on June 27, 2013

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a speech to the American Society of News Editors on Tuesday.  The thrust of the speech was telling them how they should report on the Common Core.  He then gave them questions to ask of people like us.

As you know, good journalism is more than just claim and counter-claim. It’s investigating what’s true and false, what’s a responsible statement and what’s not. Many of you have done fine work on that front.

You understand the truth about the role of the federal government with respect to common core standards: We didn’t write them, we don’t mandate them and we don’t regulate them.

That’s why leaders on the left and the right—Randi Weingarten and Mitch Daniels; Dennis van Roekel; and Jeb Bush—and so many others—support the Common Core standards, even if they disagree on many other issues.

You also understand that the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula.

So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created, or requires of any school, teacher, or district.

Ask if they can identify any textbook that the federal government created, endorsed, or required for any school, teacher, or district in their state.

Ask them to identify any element, phrase, or a single word of the Common Core standards that was developed or required by the federal government.

If they tell you that any of these things are happening—challenge them to name names. Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist.

For starters.  We at Truth in American Education have never made any of the claims listed above.  It’s amazing though for somebody who wasn’t involved in it’s development Arne Duncan sure doesn’t mind spending federal money defending the Common Core and attacking those who criticize it.   I find it ironic that at the end of his speech he says, “Because the power of democracy depends upon an informed electorate—and a free press.” 

That’s great it would have been nice for the electorate to have been informed before the Common Core was implemented.  For somebody who wants a free press why is he telling them how to report on the Common Core.

Yes both sides should be represented.  I’ll admit that there has been some misinformation coming from some new Common Core critics.  I’ve worked mainly behind the scenes to try to correct that.  I’ve encouraged others to be measured in their criticism and not to overstate their case.

Has Arne Duncan done that?  Nope.  He touts this as a state-led effort when it was really a special interest group-led effort.  He didn’t mention that Congress never approved stimulus money to be spent on Race to the Top grants (it was an executive earmark) or for assessments.  He failed to mention not a single state legislature voted on this measure.  There was no mention that the validation process has been found wanting and relatively few people were involved in actually writing the standards.  Valarie Strauss points out some other omissions in his speech:

Duncan, in his speech to the newspaper editors, said the federal government didn’t start or write the standards, and that is true. He said that it wasn’t mandated either, though critics argue that it was coerced. He was also right when he said the Core is not a curriculum (even though the Core authors released a book of criteria to education publishers about what should be in Core curriculum).

But he didn’t mention the rushed implementation, nor the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government has plowed into the testing creation effort. He has said for years that the Core-aligned tests would be “game changers” and be able to assess students much more broadly,  but he didn’t say Tuesday that that isn’t true. It turns out there wasn’t enough time or money to create those kinds of tests.

On Tuesday, Duncan said he doesn’t think the Common Core State Standards initiative is “going to be derailed.” But the thrust of his speech shows that he is plenty worried.

So journalists please do your job.  Report the truth and not just talking points given to you by Secretary Duncan.

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About the Author ()

Shane Vander Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Caffeinated Thoughts, a popular Christian conservative blog in Iowa. He is also the President of 4:15 Communications, a social media & communications consulting/management firm, along with serving as the communications director for American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative.  Prior to this Shane spent 20 years in youth ministry serving in church, parachurch, and school settings.  He has taught Jr. High History along with being the Dean of Students for Christian school in Indiana.  Shane and his wife home school their three teenage children and have done so since the beginning.   He has recently been recognized by Campaigns & Elections Magazine as one of the top political influencers in Iowa. Shane and his family reside near Des Moines, IA.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Google +.

Comments (2)

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  1. alvin691 says:

    It’s all about controlling the message.

  2. kimhil says:

    Agenda 21; sustainability; the green movement – all are working to tell our children what is “acceptable”. Soros funded Open Society, and the Gates Foundation have multitudes of money invested in remaking America into a totalitarian state, and common core is a integral part of “helping” “disadvantaged” countries. If only people knew how disadvantaged they will be by believing the wealth stealers.

    http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/agenda/How do Soros, Agenda 21, and the Open Education movement tie to Utah? Published September
    15, 2012