Monday, November 18, 2013

Is it Ever Going to Get Better?

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan said. “You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.”
Overcoming that will require communicating to parents that competition is now global, not local, he said.

So says Arne Duncan this week in Richmond according to a report from Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet.
It’s alarming that policy is directed in this nation by those so far out of touch with reality.

First, he’s attempting to frame opposition to Common Core in emotional terms. This shuts off rational discussion of pro’s and con’s by placing one side on the rational/objective side and the other on the emotional/reactive side. We see this as well when people evoke the mantra of “student’s first” or frame dissent in the corner of “status quo.” So far in America, this has worked. Reasonable opposition to modern education reform, questions and criticism that could lead us toward informed cooperative change, are dismissed.

Second, he’s assuming that accepted metrics of student and school performance are valid. I’ve given several tests this year and each of them has given me different information about students and their environment. I’ve learned a few times that students do poorly on tests because they haven’t taken the responsibility to prepare. I’ve found that other times the test was perhaps too hard, or my instruction didn’t prepare them well enough for expectations. I’m able to determine if a test score is the result of effort or lack of understanding in conversation with students about their performance. The test score doesn’t speak for itself.

Third, he overlooks the successes that we see in public education systems. How should the “white suburban moms” respond? We thought our schools were good. My oldest child graduated, went to a good college, and has a successful career now. I guess we were fooled. Now that we’ve got the “data” it’s obvious that this school sucks.

But perhaps the biggest problem is this. Common Core implementation is pretty new. I’m not sure that many locations have actually seen results of their implementation and the results of the testing. How are these “white suburban moms” already reacting to something that hasn't happened. It seems like Arne already knows the results or at least has a hope for what they will be. Are the Common Core standards an effort to measure the educational quality of the United States or are they a plan to prove what reformers want to hear?


  1. I heard he promised "If you like your standards, you can keep your standards"

  2. Can I punch Arne in the gut?