my life as a dog
Are your Common Core educated children like Laika, the Soviet dog? Are they the guinea pigs for an experiment? Let’s just “see what happens”?

We attended a Missouri State Board of Education meeting in which arguments were made against Common Core State Standards Initiative (by citizens not funded by special interest groups) and for CCSSI (by two privately funded Chamber of Commerce spokespersons).  We’ll be providing a rebuttal soon to the Chamber’s arguments which were basically lifted from the talking points from the CCSSO website.

What struck me was the insistence by these two non-educators that the standards will be the answer to equipping students with skills that employers require.  These skills needed will be the same for small and large businesses in St. Louis, Hannibal, Sikeston, Camdenton, etc. All students will be able to be ready for all the 21st century jobs available in our state although no mention was given on exactly what these jobs will be.  The two spokespeople offered no research or data to support their claims that the standards will make students workforce ready but if you think education is to train kids for the workforce, this is music to your ears.  Why worry about lack of research, data and best practices?  Why worry that the adoption and implementation of CCSS violates several Missouri statutes?

Ggovernmental agencies in health care and education apparently have adopted not the rule of law in crafting legislation or mandates but are now utilizing “we’re building the plane while we fly it” system of government.  From an article about the disastrous health care rollout in HotAir:

“It’s going to be smoother in places like Maryland where governors are working to implement it rather than fight it. (Applause.)” — President Barack Obama, Sept. 26, 2013

This same sentiment holds true for the CCSS implementation.  Chamber representatives insist “it’s all good” and refuse to provide any research/data that proves their assurances to State Board members.  We have this same “build the plane while you are flying it” credo present in Health Care proponent claims from  Common Core proponents.  From Chester Finn at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) March 2013 meeting:

Chester Finn of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, however, highlighted the initiative’s flexibility as a positive change from the No Child Left Behind Act’s prescriptive nature. Panelists agreed that ultimately, the success or failure of the Common Core will hinge on these implementation challenges and whether the initiative will complement current reform efforts throughout the implementation process.

Finn’s take on the Common Core only sounds positive if you like education reform based not on field testing, research or data.  The “building the plane as you fly it” appeals to these reformers instead of years of pilot testing and verifiable results:

  • CCSS is tentative and many unknowns exist
  • The extent of how much this is a “leap into the unknown”
  • More papers describe what hasn’t been determined than have been (but Finn doesn’t necessarily think this is such a bad thing in such a big, diverse country as we build this plane as we fly it)
  • Maybe we have to build 50 different planes as we fly them…or 45 if those CCSS adopting states continue to fly them and think they are designing
  • NCLB tried to design a plane before flying it and it sort of crashed
  • It may be that designing it while in the air is not such a bad thing
  • The Common Core itself is only 2 1/2 years old…out in the public view for that long which is actually a very short time in the life of an education system
  • The fact that we don’t know who is going to police it, the fact that we don’t know how it’s going to be implemented in relation to things like school choice and so on….is not a bad thing.  States are going to do this in different ways.
  • He hopes the metrics of student learning are common enough that some of these naturally occurring experiments around the country will be able to be compared in terms of the results be it on the consortium assessments or the new ACT or the new SAT or NAEP or whatever…
  • We want to know which places are making greater progress for kids
  • But I think a lot of these things are going to be experiments frankly for quite a while to come and I think there are a lot of different ones going on rather than big national answers
  • Re-authorization of ESEA: The Congress will have to determine if, or at all, to deal with the Common Core, really the CCSS assessments, than anything else, in terms of federal accountability….maybe there won’t be any federal accountability the next time around (video ends)

School administrators in Balitmore have used Chester Finn’s analogy of Common Core adoption and implementation as “building the plane as we fly it” and insisting the passengers (students) are safe.  Karen Lewis, Chicago Teacher’s Union president used the same comparison:

She admits it was never field tested, appropriately rolled out, and “we’re flying an airplane as we build it”.  Then she says “Who knows? We’ll see what that will bring”.

Here you have Common Core proponents or bureaucrats in their own words who care little for the rule of law and are willing to allow your students and teachers to be the guinea pigs for this grand educational reform experiment.  The emphasis seems to be on building and implementing the system (airplane) of CCSSI while caring little for the effect on the recipients of the system (passengers).  The Chamber of Commerce supports this effort.

Is it time to refuse to allow your children to be part of an experiment?  It’s apparent there are no best educational practices left in public education.

Gretchen Logue