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Common Core Problems

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Because it is so despised by right-wingers, there’s a temptation to defend Common Core education standards. But as with so much of the education reformers’ agenda, in practice it is deeply problematic, although not usually for the reasons wingnuts have. One of the major problems is the combined issue of testing and privatization. Unfortunately, and I think this might be about to change to some extent, education this century has become about an endless cycle of testing and test-prep, to the detriment of independent thinking, real education, and fun. But who is going to grade all of these tests. Often this is contracted out to private education companies like Pearson. But do you think a corporation wants to employ a bunch of humans to do this grading? Of course not. So how are they grading writing? Through computer program. But computers are a terrible way to evaluate writing.

Here, Pearson appears to be suggesting that the robust marketplace in data-mining computer apps supplied with artificial intelligence will lead to a proliferation of jobs for ed tech entrepreneurs and computer coders, to make up for the proportional loss of jobs for teachers. This seems to be further evidence that their ultimate goal — as well of that of their allies in the foundation and corporate worlds — is to maximize the mechanization of education and minimize the personal interaction between teachers and students, as well as students with each other, in classrooms throughout the United States and abroad.

Well, the ultimate goal is profit, both personal and corporate. This is just a means to that end. But while a computer program can count big words or key words or whatever, it can’t evaluate for meaning, subtlety, originality, argument, or much of anything that actually makes up good writing. Terrible idea.

Another problem with Common Core is that it undermines good education programs that already existed in the country. Take for example Common Core and Massachusetts literature standards.

Until recently, classic literature and poetry saturated the commonwealth’s K-12 English standards. Between 2005 and 2013, Massachusetts bested every other state on the reading portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, called “the nation’s report card.” Great fiction and poetry contributed to Massachusetts’ success on virtually every K-12 reading test known to the English-speaking world.

But in 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration succumbed to the temptation of $250 million in one-time federal grant money, killing off our edifying English standards in favor of inferior nationalized benchmarks known as Common Core. These national standards – an educational gooney bird – cut enduring fiction and poetry by 60 percent and replaced it with “informational texts.”

“We could find no research to support the assertion that substituting informational texts for literature will improve students’ college readiness,” scholars Mark Bauerlein and Sandra Stotsky said in 2012. “In fact, experience suggests that exactly the opposite is likely to happen.”

By 2015, the commonwealth tied for second in the country on the eighth-grade NAEP reading test, and SAT scores were down 20 points, especially in the writing portion. Students don’t learn to write well by reading Common Core’s soul-deadening “informational texts.”

This is an irresponsible descent from established academic excellence.

“For much of the 20th century, British literature held the center of high school English and … college courses in composition, English, history, (and) linguistics …,” Bauerlein and Stotsky continue. “We find no explanation for Common Core dispensing with it.”

But again, the pushback is on the way:

For Massachusetts students, the Patrick administration and Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s legacy of shooting down better English standards in favor of Common Core has been an albatross around everyone’s necks.

Recent WBZ News-UMass polling finds that Bay State voters, by a margin of 53 percent to 22 percent, support a statewide ballot initiative to restore our previous, higher-quality K-12 academic standards.

Nationally, Common Core backer and failed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush called the standards “poisonous,” while Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton recently said Common Core’s implementation has been “disastrous.”

As Common Core has seeped into America’s classrooms, Brookings Institution researcher Tom Loveless observed last month, “The dominance of fiction is waning. … Teachers in 2015 were less likely to embrace the superiority of fiction in reading instruction than in the past, and the change is evident in both fourth and eighth grades after 2011.”

I suppose the argument is that all states aren’t Massachusetts and so the Bay State can sacrifice some while the standards helps Alabama students achieve more. But the standards are largely terrible, corporate, and designed not for students but to serve an ideological and financial agenda. Unfortunately, politicians of both parties, especially Barack Obama, are really susceptible to this line of thinking. As I’ve said many times, the single worst part of Obama’s legacy is his awful education policy.

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  • I can’t speak for the English CCSS, but the math ones are a vast improvement over what almost all the states had previously. New York, Massachusetts, California are usually held up as exceptions.

    Now, there are two entirely separate matters that need to be gotten out of the way (and if you’ve ever discussed Common Core on the internet, you can skip this part):

    First, standards are not curriculum, they’re a spec for curriculum to meet and for testing to test. So don’t start complaining to me that either of the two testing groups is awful — I will neither agree with you nor disagree.

    Second, the Obama administration’s decision to strong-arm states into adopting CCSS is a component of a larger policy fail. But that’s because their theory of change is incoherent when it comes to education. I’m not even sure I can state Arne Duncan’s theory of change, maybe mumble something about charter schools and accountability. And yes, there is a union-busting component to the DOE’s path under Obama. But that would remain even if we went back to fifty independent standards documents; and could be turned off without the progress that the CCSS (or at least the CCSS-Math) represent for the vast majority of the school districts in the country.

    • Kal

      Yeah, my partner teaches, and argues persuasively that the Common Core math standards are a big improvement over the way she and I were taught math. But the problem is all of that potential good is undone when it’s packaged with an approach that steals so much time for tests and test prep. She spent last week administering a test which is admittedly based on a asking kids questions about a story scenario that would be unfamiliar to many of them; the state-recommended solution was to spend a full class day in advance doing a prep session specifically for this scenario, which came with packaged curriculum and everything.

      “We know its better to teach kids an *intuition* for math, not to blindly memorize algorithms; but even better than that is to teach them how to jump through the hoops of a specific, poorly-designed test!”

      • I Can I ask what grade?

        I’ve discussed CC with elementary teachers and it seems like a big ask for experienced, long out of school K-2 teachers (few of whom, stats show, consider themselves strong in math) to take a new approach based on a top-down mandate and a brief training course (with limited feedback to those making the mandates so informed people can evaluate whether the program is working as desired), and to convey intuition about math they don’t themselves find intuitive.

        It isn’t hard to suspect some reformers see testing as inevitably bringing out flaws that will have to be fixed, so they get their way without having to express their preferences. I suspect instead it will just move existing inequality around so it isn’t as obvious in the places people expect to see it.

        • It is a big ask for someone who doesn’t fucking understand math to teach math.

          Which is why we shouldn’t be doing that. If higher standards mean that elementary schools switch to a content-specialist model instead of the current system where those without a content specialization and high math anxiety self-select into ECE, I say that can’t happen soon enough.

          • Steve LaBonne

            Absolutely right. Should have happened long ago.

  • freyes10

    ““The dominance of fiction is waning. … Teachers in 2015 were less likely to embrace the superiority of fiction in reading instruction than in the past, and the change is evident in both fourth and eighth grades after 2011.”

    I happen to think this is fantastic. As someone who teachers AP History courses, one of the most frustrating aspects was that many students had not seen an ‘at-level’ non-fiction text throughout their whole academic career. English class is not Literature class and shouldn’t be treated that way.

    That said, while I’m a big fan of the CC standards (and they are standards, not curriculum), implementation has been catastrophically bad in most areas. However, the political pushback is actually leading to worse educational outcomes because most of the actual critiques are so poorly thought about and their solutions are implemented even worse.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Those are pretty much my thoughts, and it’s enormously frustrating. National standards are not only a very good idea but an essential one if we ever want a well-educated population. But under current political conditions every education idea, good or bad, will be perverted to feed the corporate education deform grift machine.

      • rm

        Yes, this.

      • malraux

        Yeah, growing up in Louisiana, there was always a substantial problem that our curriculum was determined by Texas. Because Texas was the largest purchaser, the textbook/education companies would write their products with an eye to Texas. Sure you could pay extra to get materials written to another standard, but that would be more expensive. Much easier to just align your curriculum to the Texas standard.

        For obvious reasons, this was not a good thing.

        • ThrottleJockey

          In Texas history books New Orleans was a suburb of Houston unfairly stolen by the French?

          • Downpuppy

            More like Admiral Dewey was an Agent of Satan

            The Texas Schoolbook Committee hit Peak Wingnut 40 years ago & went into orbit

    • ThrottleJockey

      I’m not an educator but I’d imagine informational text are a superior method of teaching and testing reading comprehension. The problem with fiction is that it’s entirely subjective and in that vein there’s no wrong answer. While fiction enlightens civilization I’m more interested in kids being able to grok information… This being the information age and all.

      • nadirehsa

        This is not remotely true. Fiction isn’t really totally subjective; you might have a few interpretations, but there are limits. Having my students identify the different arguments and argue for one over the others is an excellent test of reading comprehension and critical thinking.

        • ThrottleJockey

          We have different conceptions of critical thinking. A few Saturdays ago we had a good debate about that here. In fact literature is a pretty poor way to teach critical thinking because there’s simply too much that is subjective.

      • jeer9

        The problem with fiction is that it’s entirely subjective and in that vein there’s no wrong answer.

        Interpretation of any text, whether fiction or non-fiction, requires evidentiary support. Without it, your argument may not be “wrong” but it will be very, very poor.

        I’m not an educator

        We are aware of that.

        To freyes10:

        As someone who teaches AP History courses, one of the most frustrating aspects was that many students had not seen an ‘at-level’ non-fiction text throughout their whole academic career.

        If your students have not critically read and dissected an at-level non-fiction text by the time they have reached your AP History class, I would suggest you look within your own department at the lower grade levels for why this is occurring. I can assure you that most English teachers incorporate a great deal of non-fiction into their curriculum as background for any piece of fiction (the Holocaust, Jim Crow laws, treatment of the mentally disabled).

        English class is not Literature class and shouldn’t be treated that way.

        Thanks for the advice. You must be fun at inter-disciplinary meetings.

        The CC movement to transform English into a non-fiction discipline with a mandated (“suggested”) greater focus on speeches, historical writing, and informational text is misdirected and guided by the obsession with bubble-in testing and a view of education as vocational training.

        Why do people even write poetry? WTF’s that about?

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          I’m reminded of an amusing scene in “Barely Lethal” (terrible title, hilarious movie) with the “raised by special-ops wolves” teen girl under cover in English lit class.

          Teacher: “‘Two paths diverge in the woods.’ What does this mean to you?”

          Girl: “It’s an ambush. I’d backtrack, head off the path, set up perimeter defense, and attack from a different direction with silenced weapons.”

        • ThrottleJockey

          Interpretation of any text, whether fiction or non-fiction, requires evidentiary support. Without it, your argument may not be “wrong” but it will be very, very poor.

          The issue is that the same piece of evidence can frequently be used to argue opposing viewpoints. Frequently evidence is of the glass half-full, half-empty variety. It’s a staple of legal debates in fact.

          I was once on trial for disorderly conduct and intoxication. My defense put up Witnesses and videotape indicating that rather than being disorderly and aggressive I had been “totally passive”. When I got cross-examined by the prosecutor he said, “I’m sure you were being passive. You were being passive-aggressive weren’t you?”

          • Rat2

            “The issue is that the same piece of evidence can frequently be used to argue opposing viewpoints.”

            So what? The point is to teach the students to analyze the text, then marshal textual evidence in support of an argument. It doesn’t matter whether they’re doing that in service of the “right” interpretation.

            • ThrottleJockey

              That’s a good way to teach rhetoric that’s not a good way to teach good analysis.

              • Rat2

                Disagree. It’s effectively the same method they use to train lawyers (who are professional analysts). Your original point was that “literature is a pretty poor way to teach critical thinking because there’s simply too much that is subjective.” That’s wrong. You can teach critical thinking and analysis effectively with any kind of written text whether it’s literature, caselaw, or something else.

                • jeer9

                  Yes. TJ is a rather dim bulb and has not yet realized that all writing is rhetorical and persuasive in nature, that arguments, regardless of their genre or form, need to be evaluated based upon evidence, and that critical thinking, often biased by political, ethnic, or gender considerations, will effect the final judgment.

                  Thanks for responding to him but it’s really a brick wall, so …

                • Linnaeus

                  “Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

                • The Dark God of Time

                  TJ thinks Moby Dick is an alternate porno site.

        • freyes10

          I think it’s a travesty when I see English classes that all year focus on fiction. This is not uncommon. I think the idea that there is a class called ‘English’, which is about the study of the written English language and is solely focused on reading fiction is silly. I’m sorry if you disagree.

          Maybe we just simply have different experiences – but after working at four schools and inspecting a variety of curriculum as outside support, it has struck me that it was often very frustrating to get English teachers to incorporate something in non-fiction that was more substantial than a once a month secondary source piece that provided historical context to their material. I appreciate that my current employer explicitly calls it Literature class and has a separate course that merges study of fiction and non-fiction writing analysis.

          • jeer9

            I think it’s a travesty when I see English classes that all year focus on fiction. This is not uncommon. I think the idea that there is a class called ‘English’, which is about the study of the written English language and is solely focused on reading fiction is silly.

            You need to get out more. The intersections between your favorite topic of history, reading, fiction, and silliness are too numerous to list – though I suspect you’re an unintentional expert on several of them.

            it has struck me that it was often very frustrating to get English teachers to incorporate something in non-fiction that was more substantial than a once a month secondary source piece that provided historical context to their material.

            Putting aside the fact that I think too much of an emphasis on fiction reading is silly and that only non-fiction teaches critical thinking skills, I can’t understand why certain English departments won’t listen to my suggestions about what is really important in their discipline.

            • freyes10

              All I was suggesting is that maybe, just maybe, having more than occasional once a month close read of a non-fiction would be nice. I’m not suggesting even 50% of the time. 20-25%?

              It’s also how I feel about History teachers who don’t use any fiction texts in history classes.

              But hey, go ahead, strawman away!

        • los

          purportedly to cure insomnia, but even limericks do not.

        • LosGatosCA

          No disrespect to TJ but I literally LOL’d at this

          I’m not an educator

          We are aware of that.

          Almost dropped the laptop.

      • Donalbain

        Only if you want the work to be marked by a robot, or a robotically trained human. Even if it doesn’t have a singular correct answer, the responses to the question ” Was Hamlet really mad, or just pretending? ” can give a excellent idea of how well a student understood the text.

    • nadirehsa

      The problem with this reasoning, though, is that you’re pre-supposing some wide gap between fiction and non fiction reading strategies and abilities. The research on reading ability suggests that it doesn’t matter what they read; proficiency gained from reading novels transfers just fine onto non-fiction.

      Let’s also keep in mind that the informational texts the CCSS implenters tell us to teach our students is not the quality literary nonfiction that everyone imagines when they hear about this. I’ve been told that my students, honors students, should be reading technical manuals, instructions for tasks, descriptions of topology (seriously); all the sorts of things that no adolescent wants to read. As with most assignments, their success with reading depends largely on their interest level. CCSS informational texts seem almost designed to take eager readers and make them hate it.

      • jeer9

        +100

      • freyes10

        I don’t think there is a particularly large gap, but I think pretending that there isn’t one seems silly. The research focuses on comprehension – but often, particularly in looking at older primary source texts, there were issues in translation from students who were not used to paying attention to texts for historical context, which is often not as emphasized in many literature classrooms.

        • Rat2

          This isn’t right. If your English teacher puts Shakespeare on the syllabus, you’re going to learn about Elizabethan England.

          • jeer9

            Now there’s a source of much fiction. :>)

    • William Berry

      English class is not Literature class and shouldn’t be treated that way.

      What an utter crock.

      I did a double major in History and English in my youth and have kept up the habit of reading in the decades since. I can attest, with the authority of long experience, that well-written and well researched non-fiction in virtually any field is considered to be literature in the best (and classical) sense of that word.

      • William Berry

        Not disagreeing, btw, with the idea that more non-fiction should be taught, but the quoted sentence, with its implicit distinction between “Literature” and “non-fiction” really leaped out.

        • freyes10

          That’s fair. I treated ‘literature’ as a category as ‘fiction’.

      • William Berry

        Also, I think it needs to be pointed out that English as taught to native English speakers is not approached as a language class, per se; that would be ESL, or, in other contexts, any language learned as a foreign language. English in English-language schools aims for a more advanced level of comprehension and analysis with respect to mechanics, idiom, etc.

        Perhaps somewhat ironically, the more comprehensive understanding is achieved not so much by the straight-forward study of mechanics (of grammar, such as might be emphasized in ESL, e.g.) but by the reading and critical study of representative texts*.

        *Literature!

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Hey kids! Here’s something to put in your Pearson computer graded essay!

    ‘DROP TABLE *;

    Bonus points for working it into the story ‘naturally’.

    • Steve LaBonne
    • N__B

      Bonus points for working it into the story ‘naturally’.

      “Hulk lift table to get mic close to mouth.

      Hulk tell punchline.

      Hulk drop table.”

      • Yankee

        … the asterix is important. also the semi-colon, in a running text format

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          …and the initial quote to “escape” the previous field.

          Sorry N_B, you failed the test.

          • N__B

            Not me. The Hulk failed. You tell him.

      • Mike G

        +1

        Hulk smash database!

  • ThresherK (KadeKo)

    As a liberal who knew from day zero Michelle Rhee was just another Professor Marvel (with the exception that Rhee’s alter ego in Oz is not a “very good [person], just a very bad wizard”), I ask:

    What do conservatives have to do so I don’t automatically dismiss their bleatings on education?

    • Steve LaBonne

      They could die painfully in a fire. That works for me.

    • Colin Day

      Disavow David Barton?

  • rm

    I’m glad to see others have already jumped in to say standards are not curriculum. The Language Arts standards are quite good on the high school level. I don’t have any expertise in earlier levels, and I’ve heard that they may not allow for age-appropriate differences in individual kids. The standards have not driven literature out, but bad curriculum might. Reading is indeed dead, but that has been true for a long time, and is not the fault of the standards.

    Standards are also not testing. Testing is horrible and deserves all the criticism in the OP. Whatever standards exist and whatever name we give them, the Great Satan Pearson will sell us a billion dollar test to assess them. Testing corrupts curriculum by forcing schools to prepare for the test instead of designing curriculum that addresses the standards in a real way.

    • rm

      Also, perhaps I feel defensive about the standards because I am in Kentucky, where implementation was really done well. It was done with participation from every school’s math and LA faculty statewide, and done so early that the Great Satan Testing Companies had not yet begun to dictate curriculum. A couple years in they had new tests to market, and you could watch them corrupt the curriculum which had been worked out earlier.

      And now we have Bevin, who represents the people who think Common Core is the tip of the spear for UN-directed Atheist Muslim Humanist brainwashing.

      • I feel defensive about the common standards because something like 25% of the kids sitting in desks at the end of the school year in Lowell didn’t start the year there. Now, the teachers know that incoming students had the same courses last year as the returning students.

  • Gregor Sansa

    My mother was a key figure in developing the NGSS, which is essentially the science-oriented follow-up to Common Core. (A key enough figure that when we met for a family trip in Utah a few weeks ago, she ran into an Indonesian fanboy of hers who gave her some physics-geek T-shirts that went to my daughter.) And it was very instructive to see how the hopeful and constructive process of developing the standards themselves became a defensive battle against facts-facts-facts as soon as the standards were being formed into curriculum and thus the testing companies got involved.

    (The above is an extreme simplification of course.)

    • rm

      Yeah.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Worth noting that though it’s a defensive battle, it’s one they’re fighting, and not always losing. The NGSS are definitely a good thing.

  • Murc

    Recent WBZ News-UMass polling finds that Bay State voters, by a margin of 53 percent to 22 percent, support a statewide ballot initiative to restore our previous, higher-quality K-12 academic standards.

    Wait, hold on.

    As someone who has defended Common Core, does it actually prohibit adopting higher standards if a state chooses to do so?

    That’s insane. That’s the educational equivalent of a federal minimum wage law declaring states can’t set a higher one. Common Core standards should be a floor, not a ceiling.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “That’s insane. That’s the educational equivalent of a federal state minimum wage law declaring states cities can’t set a higher one.”

      And yet…

    • Wait, hold on.

      As someone who has defended Common Core, does it actually prohibit adopting higher standards if a state chooses to do so?

      That’s a bit of a mischaracterization. The membership terms of the CC Consortium allow states to adopt a limited number of standards items in addition to the CCSS. I think it’s supposed to be no more than 5% or so.

  • UserGoogol

    minimize the personal interaction between teachers and students, as well as students with each other, in classrooms throughout the United States and abroad.

    Is that a bad thing? Introverts exist. If personal interaction is a mandatory part of education, then you’re just making life more difficult for a big segment of the population.

    Of course to a point I’m just projecting my own fairly eccentric anxieties and issues onto society as a whole. But I think this is really a pretty general issue in education, which predates standardized testing as a problem by a lot. Most of the things people don’t like about school are the social interactions, not the act of learning itself.

    • Murc

      Is that a bad thing? Introverts exist.

      Unless those introverts are also strong autodidacts, they still require constructive interaction with teachers in order to be effectively educated.

      I say this as someone who is so strongly introverted he often won’t go into a store if he sees a greeter out front or that he will be the only one inside.

      • drwormphd

        Yeah and ironically a lot of education reforms seem predicated on the notion that everyone is an *extrovert*, particularly with the emphasis on shared space, collaboration, maker space etc (all of which are good things as tools or activities, but not as foundations for pedagogical practice.) If anything teacher/student interactions, and dare I say traditional meatspace classrooms, are very important for helping introverts learn how to navigate the world (at least I say so as a raging introvert).

        • nixnutz

          Trial by fire works well for some people and it causes lots of other people to fail miserably, the fact that some people do OK is no excuse for not accommodating everyone, or at least making the effort.

          I think introversion wouldn’t be such an obstacle if the challenge weren’t front-loaded to a period in your life when you have little awareness and no strategies to deal with it.

          • ThrottleJockey

            As another raging introvert, that’s what parents are for… I got it from my mother. In high school I was thought to be cocky and aloof because I was bashful. I decided there are worse things to be said about a person. My oldest friend is a raging extrovert Who hates introverts. How we became best friends I’ll never know.

    • Derelict

      Unfortunately, we don’t really have any other way to socialize children. Doing so by throwing them in with a bunch of other kids in a situation in which they’re all under pressure to conform to a bewildering set of standards–academic, social with teachers/admin, and social with peers–is absolutely horrible. But it’s far better than any other alternatives, and it actually does prepare them for adult life . . .

      . . . which, for far too many adults, is merely high school by other means.

    • Bruce B.

      I’m fairly severely introverted myself, and I really needed the interaction practice. Left to myself I would have skipped it, but routine life doesn’t allow for skipping all the interactions we don’t wish to choose.

      As with a lot else, this isn’t a defense of the specific requirements, just noting that I think the principle did me good in helping me get through stuff I didn’t want to do but had to, later in life.

  • Because it is so despised by right-wingers,

    In fact, a search for “right wing opposition to common core” returns many results from September 2014 and little since. Restricting it to the past year gives more than 50% results about progressive opposition.

    • Hob

      Not that this really proves anything one way or the other, but you’ll get very different results if you search for something like Republican Common Core. It may be the case that there are now an equal number of liberal critics, but I definitely wouldn’t say that the right has dialed back their rhetoric on this within the last couple years.

      • Yes, articles about the election is the other 50%.

        I’d question whether it follows that progressives and liberals who question Common Core should feel uncomfortable with their position just because their political allies feel it’s s a subject for RWNJ’s and teacher-haters. In 2013 all opposition apparently was from the right; around 2014 it became bipartisan.

        • ThrottleJockey

          If both liberals and conservatives hate it in common core must be a pretty good idea :-D

        • Hogan

          It seems to me that the opposition from the right has been about the content of the standards, and the opposition from the left has been about the implementation. It would make sense for the first to lag behind the second.

        • Hob

          Perhaps we’re talking past each other, but my point was that I think you’re using a faulty search term, so you can’t really prove anything by using that same search term with a different date range.

          And while this might be nitpicking, I think your paraphrase of Loomis’s first sentence is pretty misleading. He didn’t say that “progressives and liberals who question Common Core should feel uncomfortable with their position just because their political allies feel it’s a subject for RWNJ’s and teacher-haters.” I mean, the point of the whole post is that people should question it! He said that some people may be defending it too much in opposition to right-wing rhetoric. Now, Loomis may be wrong to think that that’s how the debate has been working, and he may be wrong in his characterization of Common Core, but it would still make no sense to respond to his opening statement as you did by saying that actually it’s not just right-wingers who oppose it.

          On a less meta note, it seems to me (as a non-educator and non-parent following this stuff from a distance) that even if opposition were split 50-50 between left and right– which isn’t what I’ve seen, but again, I’m a bystander– there would still be a significant difference in the nature of the opposition. (1) Progressive critics of CC are saying that it has flaws as an educational approach and/or that it’s being pushed from the top down in an inflexible way that undermines other worthy efforts. (2) Right-wing critics are saying that it’s basically a Communist plot to indoctrinate children and destroy America, that this is just another reason why we should abolish the Dept of Ed, and that any politician who’s on the record as having been sympathetic to CC in any way should be anathema forever. I can see how even someone who totally agreed with (1) might still be inclined to push back some when they encounter (2). In other words, Loomis’s position here is sort of like saying “Because right-wingers think Noam Chomsky eats babies and is literally Satan, there’s a temptation to defend him, but actually there are some problems with his political analysis”; you could certainly argue about the merits of those problems, but simply saying “There are also leftists who don’t like him” wouldn’t be responsive.

          • My own point was that even if I use your search term, I get the same result. Maybe this is what you mean by talking past each other?

            The press was full of liberal parents (NYT and WashPo reader types) threatening to keep their kids home on test day, just last year. The OP seems to assume a world where that didn’t happen. I appreciate your defense of Loomis’s own real intention, though.

            • Hob

              “My own point was that even if I use your search term, I get the same result”

              ???… you didn’t say anything remotely like that, so I don’t know how you expected me to see your point. Honestly I have no idea what point you’re trying to make in regard to the OP, either; Loomis stating a number of arguments against CC is not in any way assuming a world in which no one else has ever made similar arguments. Anyway, I’m not trying to win a thing here, just walking away with a puzzled expression.

              • Sorry, I thought you wanted to have a discussion. It seems what you actually want is an opportunity to say what you want at a length “justified” by interweaving it with random insults directed against me, ending with “ignore the fact that I posted 3x what you did, I’m just walking away,”

                I must admit I am impressed that you disagree with commenters so seldom that it surprises you to the extent you show here. And rest assured, I’ll ponder your suggestions, about what it means to “talk past” and whether it’s desirable, and why you responded that way and what it means, for the next week or so.

                • Hob

                  What the hell?

                  Honestly, I did not think I was insulting you at all, and having looked back at the thread, I don’t know which part you thought was an insult. I really don’t.

                  When I said I was walking away with a puzzled expression, and not trying to win an argument, I meant literally that. I am puzzled; I don’t really understand your point; and I don’t think it’s worth fighting about. There have been plenty of times when I disagreed with people here, but still understood what they were getting at. If it bothered you that I wrote more text than you did… all I can say is I often find it hard to be both concise and clear at the same time (also, no one was stopping you from responding in more detail).

                  “Wanting to have a discussion” isn’t the same as “wanting to continue arguing every point forever.” I came back here to see if you had anything further to say, because I was genuinely curious about what you might have to say. This was an unpleasant surprise— I didn’t think I had given you any reason to take offense, even if you might have been understandably frustrated with my failure to see your point.

    • Just a Rube

      As someone who lives in a state where the school superintendent almost lost a Republican primary to a literal Nazi apologist whose platform was centered around opposition to the Common Core (and the superintendent has since switched to opposing CC as well), I assure you that there is still plenty of vitriolic right-wing hatred of Common Core.

  • Woodrowfan

    I’d be happy with any standards that result in students knowing at least some of the basics of American history and civics before they get to me. I’m amazed how many do not know things like the difference between the House and the Senate, how the Constitution is modified, that TR and FDR were different people, where Vietnam is on a map, etc. Too often I have to stop and explain something that I learned in 7th grade to college kids.

  • Yankee

    There’s the thing about national standards of all stripes … it’s just GONNA attract sharks, because there it is all big and juicy and all, and out of reach of local activism. Big Education is gonna be Industrial, i.e. Capitalist. Localism is going to be spotty, but it won’t NECESSARILY be a reversion to the mean followed by a race to the bottom.

    • Derelict

      Problem is, of course, that having “local control” over education leads to all sorts of complete nonsense being stuffed into the curriculum. Everything from Jesus studies to alchemy bounces around in the heads of the locals.

      • NeonTrotsky

        Hell that happens at the state level, like in Texas overtime they try to adopt new textbooks.

      • freyes10

        And with states adopting terribly low standards as a way to inflate their graduation rates.

  • los

    policy: work with the students predilection while enforcing some diversity/breadth.
    akin to picking a major and being forced to pick a minor.

    let the student choose 1/4 fiction plus 3/4 non-fiction, or vice-versa, or between.
    I rarely voluntarily read (past, and present, tenses) fiction, but school assignment choice lists usually resulted in good reads.
    also classics such as orwell, brave new world, lord of the flies are reliable…

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