the truth
Can you determine what’s true and what’s spin?

 

Donna Shalala, (formerly head Health and Human Service) and currently President of The University of Miami, penned an editorial in the Miami-Dade Herald stating that Common Core is needed to narrow the achievement gap for women:

The Common Core State Standards will establish a strong academic foundation for all students, but girls — in particular girls of color — have a lot to gain. These standards’ higher expectations for student learning will put more opportunities in the reach of girls and young women, from STEM learning in grade school, to a broader set of college majors, to the highest paying jobs in this land of opportunity.

With these advantages within their grasp, it may be the millions of young women being educated to Common Core Standards today who are ultimately in a position to eliminate the glass ceiling once and for all.

Neal McCluskey of CATO offers a response and provides research to Shalala’s claims:

As the data make obvious, there is no college-readiness gap unfavorable to women. Yet Shalala proclaims that, “These uniform, more rigorous K-12 education standards have the potential to reduce gender-based inequities by ensuring that every young woman receives the educational foundation she needs to be successful in college and career.”

Okay, maybe Shalala doesn’t really mean to suggest – as the quote does – that the Core will fix overall gaps. Maybe she only means differences in subjects like computer science and engineering that, as she writes, do lean male. But as Core proponents will point out if you assert the standards are too broad, the Core only furnishes math and English guidelines, not engineering or computer science. More important, of the two areas the Core tackles, AP-taking suggests women dominate one and hold their own in the other. 62 percent of students taking the AP English exams in 2014 were female, while 48 percent of Calculus AB takers were girls. At the very least, these figures belie any accusations of systematic efforts to exclude women from college-prep courses, even if girls tend to choose different courses than boys.

A reader on the Herald site writes:

Common Core is going to CURE the gender gap especially for women of color?! What magic fairy dust does this garbage have sprinkled on it? How does a female leader of an academic institution peddle this nonsense with a straight face. So all of these years this has been the problem…women teachers have been keeping girls down because they didn’t have the right standards? I cannot even believe the herald printed this.

 

The marketing firms tasked to sell the standards to taxpayers and legislators have tried videos, PTA toolkits, statements by former politicians and agency heads.  Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett admitted he was paid for his opinion piece on the support of the standards:

Earlier in the month, former Secretary of Education William Bennett wrote a pro-Common Core defense in the Wall Street Journal that was widely rebutted by Common Core critics and skeptics for doing exactly what Bennett claimed Common Core critics do in their criticism of Common Core – misleading people:

This morning, former Reagan administration education secretary Bill Bennett took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to make the “conservative” case for the Common Core. In that effort, he actually made a great case for Core opponents, illustrating the contradictions of the Core while furnishing several examples of all-too-frequent Core spin. And he did it, ironically, while implying that Core opponents have “badly and sometimes mischievously muddled” the Core story.

 

Why are these former agency heads defending educational reform (directed/developed by private NGOs and not based on research) which claims standards are the cure for achievement gaps that may or may not exist?  If you do more than a close reading on these pro Common Core articles and try to align their opinions with actual research, they don’t make common sense.  One reader did ask if Shalala was paid by Pearson.  Maybe the first disclaimer by Common Core editorial writers in the future (pro or con) should be to disclose funding sources for their op eds.  Then they should provide data for their claims that the standards are needed and beneficial.

 

Published November 25, 2014

 

 

 

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