The Common Core Kool-Aid – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week

The Common Core Kool-Aid – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week.


In a number of conversations this week over at Jeb Bush’s annual edu-fest, at AEI, and around DC, I was struck by the degree to which the Common Core seems to have become Dr. Pendergast’s miracle cure for everything that ails you (seemingly including heat blisters). The exchanges were eerily reminiscent of the run-up to Waiting for Superman, when smart, enthusiastic people kept telling me how everything was about to change–how suburban voters would wake up and leap on the reform bandwagon. And it reminds me more than a little of conversations had earlier this decade or back in the ’90s about how NCLB, school choice, or site-based management were going to change everything as well.

As best I can tell, none of those previous predictions came true. Now, I don’t mean to come across as a tedious, “nothing works” naysayer. The Common Core is a different exercise from those earlier cure-alls, and it might play out differently. I honestly don’t know where the truth lies. For one thing, as I’ve noted previously: I personally don’t feel qualified to judge the quality of the Common Core standards; I don’t think standards themselves matter all that much–all the action is in the stuff that follows; and I’ve seen a remarkable dearth of attention to how the Common Core will complement or clash with other key elements of the “reform” agenda (like charter schooling, new teacher evaluation systems, and school accountability).

Every time I ask about these things, I get watery, vague reassurances. Meanwhile, when I ask how exactly the Common Core is going to change teaching and learning, I’m mostly told that it’s going to finally shine a harsh light on the quality of suburban schools, shocking those families and voters into action. This will apparently entail three steps:

First, politicians will actually embrace the Common Core assessments and then will use them to set cut scores that suggest huge numbers of suburban schools are failing. Then, parents and community members who previously liked their schools are going to believe the assessment results rather than their own lying eyes. (In the case of NCLB, these same folks believed their eyes rather than the state tests, and questioned the validity of the latter–but the presumption is that things will be different this time.) Finally, newly convinced that their schools stink, parents and voters will embrace “reform.” However, most of today’s proffered remedies–including test-based teacher evaluation, efforts to move “effective” teachers to low-income schools, charter schooling, and school turnarounds–don’t have a lot of fans in the suburbs or speak to the things that suburban parents are most concerned about.

And this brings us to the crux of the matter. After failing miserably to convince suburban and middle-class voters that reforms designed for dysfunctional urban systems and at-risk kids are good for their children and their schools, Common Core advocates now evince an eerie confidence that they can scare these voters into embracing the “reform” agenda. And this conviction has become the happy Kool-Aid that allows would-be reformers to ignore the fact that they’re not actually offering to tackle the things (like access to exam-style schools, world language mastery, music and arts instruction, and so on) that suburban parents are passionate about.

More to the point, the confidence that the Common Core will wake folks up in 2015, “changing everything,” is an easy way to avoid unpleasant conversations about what it would actually take for the Common Core to connect with suburban voters or deliver on its promise (like, for instance, it might require the policy recommendations that have flowed from our “achievement gap mania” in the course of the past decade). The Kool-Aid allows would-be reformers to postpone facing up to hard truths. And it encourages proponents to regard their primary challenge as “messaging” the Common Core to parents and teachers, rather than grappling with these more substantive issues.


No worries, no fix in this at all.

Diane Ravitch's blog

From NYC Parent blog (by Leonie Haimson):

Wireless Generation, owned by Murdoch/run by Joel Klein, Wins the $4.9M Contract to develop the software that will be used to report & analyze results for the new #CommonCore Assessments – both the interim and “summative” exams being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for 25 states (blue states in map below.)

Wireless is also developing the software/ infrastructure for the Gates-funded Shared Learning Collaborative, which is collecting confidential student & teacher data in states throughout the country, including NYS, & planning to turn this information over to for-profit commercial ventures, without parental consent, to help companies develop and market their “learning products.” The information will include among other things, names, addresses, grades, test scores, disciplinary and attendance records, and learning disability status.

The SLC has now named a new CEO, Iwan Streichenberger, who is going to direct SLC’s transition from a…

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Every day is a new day.

the seventh type

Two different groups of movers and shakers have been meeting in secret for months now to make major changes in Delaware’s public education landscape. The lever they will pull to move and shake the landscape will be charter schools. This spring we will likely get our first chance for public comment, but by then it will be too late to reverse the changes or even to make more than trivial revisions.

If charter schools are public schools, why is all the planning and decision-making private?

1. Secret meeting number one: the “donated” Bank Of America building
The Longwood Foundation has engaged a national organization CEE-Trust to select the charter schools it will accept as tenants into the Community Education Building (CEB). That’s the Wilmington building that Bank of America donated to the schools Longwood Foundation in February. Applications were due August 31, and final decisions are to be made…

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EDU-funny of the day.

386567_393912414022766_1135805811_nStartling truth of current pernicious lame duck Governor Markell policy.


This issues has recently boiled over thanks to this article in the News Journal that showed a huge wedge being forced into the education of our little ones.

Simply put, the Bain Capitals type investors, who have destroyed our economy, are now interested in acquiring the $1 Trillion spent on education across this great country.

They pinpoint areas not working. Create plans (for a cost, mind you, for a cost) which they will implement and do it cheaper, pocketing the difference….

Delaware is one of those areas.

Here is the conundrum. When things are broken, any repairman who stops by is seen as a hero. So I’m not marshaling blame. This is just a work in progress. Like a city in Assassin’s Creed, we must travel down alleys and across rooftops, looking for the object of our quest. We should expect some blind turns.

The bottom line: WHAT IS BEST…

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Breaking news! 5 Delaware school districts narrowly escape more damaging federal control!

Congratulations to the following 5 districts: Seaford, Brandywine, Indian River, Colonial, New Castle County VoTech for avoiding more damaging, paralytic federal intrusion.

I know each of these districts applied in what can only be described as a foolish grab of tenuous yet extremely prescriptive federal grant money from the THIRD round of Race to the Top and while each of them likely feels disappointed and unlucky, I am here to cheer them up by letting them know how truly lucky they are to have not “won” the grant. In fact, only in federal grant incentive situations is the following statement the most true it can be: not winning IS winning!

Again, Congrats on today’s BIG win!