Time to Expose the Truth?
From reading the mainstream press, Common Core may not sound too bad.
Two articles that Time magazine devoted to Common Core (CC) are seriously flawed and mislead those who only make a cursory investigation into Common Core; they may come away thinking CC doesn’t really sound so bad.
A Time magazine article published in September of 2013 makes false claims about Common Core and attempts to characterize those who oppose it as extremists. The author writes:
Tea Party groups refer to the standards as Obamacore, despite the fact that the federal government had nothing to do with their creation. Meanwhile, leftist critics have attacked the standards as ‘corporate’ reforms, despite the fact that they were developed by teachers and researchers at the behest of a bipartisan group of governors and state education leaders.
The Obama administration had much to do with Common Core; the Dept. of Education cajoled states into adopting Common Core before the standards were even completed, allowing some states no prior examination. President Obama offered federal stimulus money in Race to the Top competitions at a time when states were in the throes of economic chaos due to the recession. The administration also favors states that adopted CC and follow its edicts when they award No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers. The waivers enable states to continue receiving and directing the use of federal funds although they fail to meet NCLB benchmarks.
Contrary to the Time claim, teachers did not develop the standards, nor were they developed by researchers. They were developed at the behest of two Washington, D.C. trade and lobbying organizations, The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and their agent, Achieve. Once CC standards were written by a few people at Achieve, the standards were sent out to states and other entities for review and comment. But Achieve was under no obligation to accept any suggestions submitted. No one knows if Achieve accepted changes because there is a veil of secrecy and a lack of sunlight surrounding the operation; there are no Freedom of Information records about the process to be obtained because the work was not done by representatives of the public, but by private entities.
The Time article, titled “What Every Child Can Learn From Kentucky,” sings the praises of that state’s early adoption of Common Core. The article fails to mention the group Kentuckians Against Common Core or any controversy about the standards in that state, choosing instead to offer positive anecdotes from a few schools. The author states: “This fall, for the first time, a majority of American public school children are working to master the same set of more rigorous skills in math and English.” But “more rigorous” is a questionable claim since there is ample evidence that CC standards are actually lower than previous standards in many states.
Time perpetuates the “state-led” myth about Common Core, even though the standards were developed by Achieve, not states. Early-adopting states like Kentucky agreed to the standards before they were even completed. The article got this right: Common Core “[represents] the biggest shift in the content of the American education in a century.” It’s a shift that did not involve teachers, parents, or public oversight of any kind.
In April of 2014 another article appeared in Time magazine. This author focuses on parents deciding to opt students out of standardized tests that are based on Common Core, calling it “skipping out.” The article claims that parents are opting students out because students aren’t doing well on the tests. The real reason for the massive number of opt-outs is because parents believe there is too much standardized testing in schools and because parents do not approve of CC.
In this article Time admits that the NGA was responsible for the standards, but fails to say the NGA shares responsibility with the CCSSO, which in conjunction with NGA owns the copyright on the CC standards.
Again the Tea Party is portrayed as irresponsibly claiming that CC is a “federal take-over of education.” The article states “this is inaccurate,” then admits that the Obama administration did offer Race to the Top federal financial incentives to states for adopting CC. Perhaps someone should familiarize the article’s author with the situation that Washington state schools are facing after failing to heed all the federal conditions of CC adoption; maybe then the magazine could better explain the federal coercion involved. When the facts are examined it becomes clear that CC will lead to the demise of local control of education, and a federal takeover.
The Time article ends with a quote from the president of the CCSSO (although the CCSSO is still not credited with creating the standards). The CCSSO president, who is also the Kentucky education commissioner, is worried that the “outcry” over Common Core testing by parents, teachers, the teachers unions, legislators, and concerned citizens “could derail the whole effort.” We can only hope that he is correct. (Time, 9-30-13, 4-21-14)