Chester Finn Is At It Again

chester-finnChester Finn writing at Fordham Institute’s blog critiques Peggy Noonan’s recent piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Finn writes:

But she’s not right to offer absolutely no alternative—unless, of course, she’s content with American K–12 education the way it is, which I know she isn’t.

And she’s not right to fail to note that the Common Core would have been—at least at this point in time—a sort of ambitious pilot program involving a smallish number of states that were serious about the implementation challenges, until the feds blundered into the middle of it with “incentives” that turned it into a sort of national piñata. (It does, however, remain absolutely voluntary for states, and I will shed no tears when those that don’t really want to put it into conscientious operation in their schools stop pretending that they will.)

And she’s not right to overlook how much of the pushback that she cites comes not from “harried parents,” but from formidable interest groups that really don’t want to change how they’ve always done things, whether or not such change would be good for kids or the country. I have in mind textbook publishers, test-makers, teacher unions, and political opportunists of every sort, lately and most prominently of the “tea party” persuasion, who will do and say anything to take down Obama and everything he’s for.

How can we take Chester Finn seriously when he still claims that the Common Core State Standards are voluntary for the states.  How about telling Indiana that?  Also does anyone see the irony in him pointing out how the “feds blundered into the middle of (Common Core)” when at the same time criticizing Tea Party folks who will “do and say anything to take down Obama.”  So people who criticize Obama on other issues are not free to criticize him on education or because they do suddenly that makes their opinion on Common Core invalid?

Also there are plenty of opponents on the left and right how are against the Common Core not just for the federal involvement, but the content as well.  Those who just criticize the Common Core because of the Fed involvement haven’t researched the standards enough.  Also regarding “formidable groups” opposing Common Core, yes think tanks have been opposing, but to say that this hasn’t been a grassroots led effort by parents shows me he’s not paying attention to what is going on in the states.  Besides groups that oppose the Common Core don’t have near the amount of resources behind us than what advocates do.  We don’t have anybody pouring millions into this fight.

Also he’s wrong to say we don’t offer an alternative, we do.  We advocate research-based, not data-less reform.  We encourage strong content-based standards that have been tested, not skill sets that have no testing or proof that they will actually work.  We actually want true local and state control of education, not further centralization which has not shown any success.   He just doesn’t want to listen.  I guess he opposes change that would take away the precious Gates money his organization receives.