The lunatic right vs. the Common Core: why can’t both of them lose?

Shorter Diane Ravitch. Yes, Glenn Beck and Michelle Malking hate the Common Core. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

Shorter Diane Ravitch:

The Common Core may be a bad idea even though the lunatic right hates it.

Outcomes-based school management is essential. But that doesn’t mean anyone knows, yet, how to actually do it right, at a national scale, in the face of the actual institutions in place. It sounds as if the Common Core is a big step up on No Child Left Behind, but that doesn’t mean that, on balance, it will do more good than harm.

Note that this is fully consistent with Ed Kilgore’s point that the Republican Party is increasingly dominated by lunatics, whose opposition to the Common Core has nothing to do with the serious flaws – amounting, in the case of the Rupert Murdoch/E.D. Hirsch/Joel Klein Core Knowledge ripoff in New York State, to something close to corruption – that Ravitch identifies.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

13 thoughts on “The lunatic right vs. the Common Core: why can’t both of them lose?”

  1. Again, education reform missing the problem. If my car doesn’t have enough gas, tinkering with a more efficient fuel injection is a waste of time.

    1. Actually, to me it is very significant if someone was in favor of the Iraq invasion. That’s a pretty big mistake to make, and it killed thousands of people. I expect public figures who supported it to either abjectly apologize, or slink away in shame, to remain silent forever after. I have no idea why any of those people still have influence.

      1. Linus Pauling won two Nobels but was wrong about vitamin C curing cancer. Being wrong about Iraq is a disqualified for foreign policy, not for curricular reform.

        1. Hmm. No, not unless the person wrong about Iraq had some other huge redeeming intellectual quality, such as being a verifiable genius of some sort. (Plus, Vit C does have benefits imo, maybe just not as big as Pauling thought. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole, okay?)

          Otherwise, to me, they’re just some shmoe who isn’t any smarter than me, and even I know better than to just haul off and make huge changes for no good reason. (Gates Fndn money doesn’t count as a good reason.) Even from the bleachers I could tell that the case against Iraq wasn’t solid, and I’m a nobody. So, nice try, but no cigar. The first thing they teach you in policy school is to go slowly and be careful and modest about your expectations, since things will pretty much for certain not go as planned. These guys didn’t get that memo, and it will come back to bite them, and everyone who isn’t one of them knew this years ago.

  2. Here’s my totally obvious and should have been done already suggestion for “outcomes” based yadda yadda. Why not ask the children — you know, the customers? — what they like and don’t like, why they stop coming to school or keep coming to school and so on and so forth?

    It is our job as a society to keep them engaged. Their job is to show up and give it their best shot… but given that they’re children, we should be meeting them more than halfway. I don’t cotton to the idea of paying them to go to school, but every bribe short of that, yes. Arts programs, activities, free food, whatever it takes. Mostly, love and attention. Multiple choice tests should be occasional and more or less an afterthought, not the main course.

  3. Oh, and if the state of California pays a *single dime* to Murdoch for this un-tested “reform” (thanks again, Mr. President…), I might have to plotz, and I barely know what that is.

  4. You know what would help kids perform better in school? Less damn poverty!! Is it that damn hard? You do realize “school reform” is a grift Sarah Palin is jealous of, right? Second only to the grift that is the NSA and “national security.”

  5. I strongly recommend looking at the actual Common Core standards, which are available here. Your reaction may be, as mine was, “This didn’t exist before?”

    Ravitch’s chief objections seem to be (1) these standards have not been tested, (2) some states previously had better standards, (3) the federal government should not be attaching conditions to federal funding that promote use of these standards, and (4) the standards unduly favor reading nonfiction at the expense of reading literature. As to each of those:

    (1) Obviously it would be good if there were some data supporting the use of these standards, but I’m not sure what kind of trial you could run that would really tell you anything. Would it be better not to implement standards for 20 years while we ran a test? Also, part of the point of Common Core is that we would have standards in wide usage, so that if students moved from one school district to another they would be covering the same material. You can’t do a one school-district test of that.

    (2) I’ve seen a side by side comparison of the Mass. standards and the Common Core standards and they seem pretty comparable.

    (3) This is not really a criticism of the standards themselves. If the standards are bad, the federal government should not encourage their use; if they are good, encouraging their use does not seem so pernicious.

    (4) This may be a fair point but it doesn’t seem like a reason to reject the standards outright.

    1. Otoh. Why would you implement a reform if you didn’t have any concrete reason to think it would achieve something positive? And what kind of nut would do that on a national scale without testing it first? What is the danged hurry? And why, given the above, would you use coercive methods to spread your “reform?” Answer: you would do all these things if you were an arrogant federal bureaucrat.

      As to point 4, if someone makes an error in regard to a small thing, wouldn’t that make a sensible person wary of the whole?

      1. You can have concrete reasons to think a reform will achieve something positive outside of a double-blind controlled test. Most new policies are not preceded by testing, frequently because it’s not feasible to do it. As for there being a hurry, people have been talking about standards for thirty plus years, and these standards have been in development with four years.

        As for point 4, I can see the argument for nonfiction vs. literature both ways, and I’m not sure where I come out. If it were obviously a dumb mistake I might feel differently about the standards as a whole. In any event, it’s not as if we can’t look at the rest of the standards to see if they are filled with obvious errors.

        1. A double blind controlled test is hardly the only option.

          Perhaps the biggest difference between us is where we stand. California already had solid standards, and we’ve resisted the administration’s coercive and untested “reforms” for years, through a brutal recession. The feds are not helping us, they are hurting us.

          If I were from a state that had a weak education system, maybe this would seem welcome, but that wouldn’t change the likelihood that most of these “reforms” are divisive and counterproductive. I can tell you that locally, the “reformers” mostly cause trouble and dissension wherever they go, without much in the way of results to show for it. Not that this stops them.

          I agree with Anderson though, it would have helped to just make them completely voluntary.

    2. Those are fair points; I think much of the conflict would lift if the Core were imposed a few years without penalties, to create a baseline and work out some kinks.

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