We did not miss out on the Race to the Top primarily because of the fact that we have not yet adopted the Common Core standards that are still in draft form. But that is the easy give for the Patrick administration. First, the Patrick folks don’t want to do the hard work necessary to address the major failing in the application — the lack of any sense as to how they would evaluate teachers using student and other data.
That would take imagination, the expenditure of political capital, and good blocking and tackling. They lack all of the above.
Adopting the Common Core standards is an easy one for an administration that has been willing, as Charlie Chieppo and I noted in a piece in the Wall Street Journal today, to weaken
the state’s emphasis on objective assessments by giving so-called 21st century skills like “global awareness” and “cultural competence” equal billing with academic content in its standardized tests.
But the question I have for Arne Duncan and the president is why are they immune to empirical evidence? Why is the Race to the Top application premised on a failed strategy, a kumbaya strategy, and a clearly inferior strategy? That is, why are our federal leaders racing to support “turnaround school” scenarios that have almost uniformly failed across the country; to insist that we secure union support when the unions, together with superintendents and school committees, have most often opposed hard reforms (including standards); and to arm-twist us to adopt national standards that are markedly inferior to our state standards?
Such wisdom from Washington. Forgive me if I yawn.