Who is Distorting the Truth About The Common Core?

David Musselwhite, the team leader of the Michigan PTA’s Common Core State Standards Initiative accuses critics of the Common Core State Standards of distorting the truth about the Core in an op/ed published this week.  He writes:

It isn’t difficult to find naysayers who lump the Common Core into arguments against what they call “corporate education reform.”

Common Core critics, in their haste to paint anything related to standardized testing as “the intellectual maiming of an entire generation,” to quote Scott Baker’s commentary in Bridge, ignore the many benefits Common Core will provide to teachers, parents, and students.

Actually my particular criticism, as well as many others, stems from the fact that the Common Core State Standards have been implemented in an unconstitutional manner through pressure from the U.S. Department of Education’s carrot and stick approach by passing state elected officials.  Also I have a problem that they haven’t been field tested – anywhere before its widespread implementation in 46 states and the District of Columbia.  I also have a problem that several states, again under pressure from the Obama Administration, joined the race to the middle swapping out their superior standards for something that is subpar.  Are you hearing me California, Indiana and Massachusetts.  I also have a problem with the potential cost of implementation that still hasn’t been fully explored.

And yes there is corporate education reform that seems to look at our kids as products to be corralled and led through a career-ready process via testing and data collection.  It’s hard not to be skeptical about the push toward STEM that may diminish a well-rounded education – not every career is a STEM career for instance.  Why shouldn’t we be skeptical of advocates who are pushing these new standards are also in position to gain from the changes via consulting, software, testing, curriculum and textbook changes.

I would charge that it is Musslewhite and his fellow advocates who are distorting the truth about the Common Core, not its critics.

  • He calls the standards rigorous – hardly evaluations done by those not paid by the same entities who paid for the Common Core State Standards development are not impressed.
  • He says they provide a common set of standards for all 50 states – yes, mediocre standards, also does the cookie cutter approach work?  No.
  • “It encourages collaboration.”  He means it bypasses school boards on matters of curriculum.  For instance he wrote, “The Tri-State Collaborative, a forum of educational leaders from New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, has created rubrics for evaluating the quality of Common Core-aligned lesson plans and units.”  As a local control advocate that doesn’t warm my heart, sorry.
  • Then the biggest distortion of all, he says that parents realize the benefits of the Common Core.  Just because the PTA endorses the Common Core doesn’t mean your average parent knows anything about it.  Recent polling has shows that 79% of voters know nothing about the Common Core State Standards.  This is probably due to the back door approach that was taken getting them approved.  Another reason why State Legislatures, not unelected state school chiefs or state boards of education should have vetted the standards.

So who is distorting the truth about the Common Core again?