Calling your opponents “stupid” is the refuge of those who can’t be bothered to consider their arguments. That is precisely what Bill Keller does in his New York Times piece on Common Core.
There are certainly some who, as Keller writes, disapprove of anything President Obama supports. As Keller notes there is indeed a “if-that-Kenyan-socialist-in-the-White-House-is-for-it-I’m-against-it crowd.”
But driving to make our schools internationally competitive requires that we all (and that includes the at times very partisan Keller) put political friendships in the back seat. There are those on the right and left who support Common Core — some are friends. The same is true of the opposition.
At Pioneer Institute, our focus for 25 years has been on getting education policy right in Massachusetts. Unlike the rest of the country, we have made enormous strides. Today the Bay State ranks in the top six “countries” in math and science; we have been the top-performing state in the union on sampled national assessments since 2005. That was a bipartisan effort that focused on what works—truly high-quality content standards, testing for teachers and students and the best-performing charter schools in the country.
As Common Core affects all facets of our state reforms, we engaged pre-eminent academic researchers and standards experts to compare each draft of the national standards to those that were previously in place in Massachusetts. We commissioned a former general counsel and deputy general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate the legality of Common Core and the assessments being developed. And we asked a respected assessment expert to provide an empirical cost estimate for implementation of the Core.
Finding that Common Core is inferior to the previous Massachusetts standards, likely violates three federal statutes, and will prove to be a $16 billion unfunded mandate, we have chosen to oppose the national standards.
Keller can call everyone involved in these academic analyses stupid and cast aspersions on the content experts around the country who oppose Common Core. But it’s hardly a smart way to argue. It’s an especially dumb argument to make when you are at the highest levels of a company that bought a paper for over a billion dollars only to sell it for a nominal $70 million. (The reality is that the final price is far less than that given that the Times assumed retirement costs for the Globe’s employees.)
Follow me on twitter at @jimstergios, visit Pioneer’s website, or check out our education posts at the Rock The Schoolhouse blog.