Pat Reilly of PR & Company has a piece up a EdSource about how the education advocacy communications gap needs to be closed. There is merit to that general argument. When you change policy then you need to be able to persuade people which naturally means you need an effective communications strategy.
The problem with reforms like Common Core is that they essentially got it pushed through and adopted quickly and under the radar. If you want to persuade people to adopt a reform it’s typically better to do that before you implement it, not after. Otherwise there can be no real public buy-in.
That was certainly mistake number one.
Her article addresses Common Core directly.
“Common Core” was a smart approach to elevating math, until it was turned into a sinister symbol. On the right it was a liberal attempt to impose a national curriculum, while the left saw it as a misguided perpetuation of George W. Bush’s discredited No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies.
A phrase meaningless on its own, Common Core became an easy target for misinformation because no one invested resources to determine the best terminology to bring the Common Core’s important purpose to life.
First I’m not so sure she totally understands what Common Core is since it involves more than just math. Second, this is a simplistic way of looking at the Common Core problem. The problem wasn’t branding. The problem was the standards themselves.
It wasn’t the smart approach because it was a top-down, centralized reform that circumvented the primary stakeholders – parents and taxpayers through their elected representatives. This was by design however. Also no amount of branding would make the Common Core math standards help prepare students for STEM programs in college. No changes in messaging would make the Common Core age appropriate for early elementary students. Even if Common Core didn’t become a “sinister symbol” it still would not have changed the fact it diminished the use of classical literature.
Changing up the communications strategy would not change the fact that invalid and expensive tests were being foisted on schools, and that student data privacy was at risk.
Changes in communications strategies surrounding Common Core has just put lipstick on a pig. It may look prettier, but it’s still a pig.