If ‘Great Products Need Little Advertising’, Common Core is in Real Trouble
Students studying marketing and advertising should compile a notebook on the numerous talking point articles extolling the virtues of Common Core in which the proponents attack the resistance of the chattering class in its uprising against the ‘state led’ Common Core State Standards Initiative. These articles provide an example of false advertising, devoid of research/data to support those claims. Rather than building a purple cow, or an educational reform package that is remarkable for being exceptional/best, the CCSS advertising campaign tries to sell its forced customers (the taxpayers/legislatures mandated to pay for these reforms) that it’s remarkable because it’s common. The above graphic is found in this slideshare in which the author outlines a study he plans to undertake to show that Product Conception Quality is a moderator of Advertising Expenditure to revenue success:
Advertising firms are primarily in the business of creating a customer base who will buy their clients’ product for its superiority and/or price point. The product conception must be valid for the product to be successful. Advertising campaigns sell a private product to the private market. The marketing campaign for CCSS is quite different and this strategy cannot be used in the CCSS PR campaign. The CCSS NGOs must come up with a marketing strategy to inform citizens why private corporations directing/developing public education with no public/legislative ability while compelling taxpayers to pay for a product they may not want is to their advantage. The NGOs may have the support of the product developers and bureaucrats who will use these reforms to their financial advantage, but they don’t have the buy in from the consumer of the forced product. It’s the strategy of ‘trust us’, we know what’s good for you. Pay for it and basically, sit down and be quiet. When people started questioning the NGO message, they were marginalized and the newest form of marginalization is now stoking collective guilt. According to many CCSS supporters and recurring talking points, the audacity of parents not subjecting their children to unvalidated and privately owned assessments written to align to the privately owned standards is unacceptable individual behavior which impedes collective equity for all students.
These proponents are heavily funded by special interest groups/foundations who have an agenda to sell products. It is imperative these groups ensure the success of the Initiative so the business plan is realized. Marketing majors (and ELA students) should read the article below as a close reading exercise but then use their critical thinking skills to read the comments. They will discover another marketing Common Core PR fail. The advertising messages being presented via private special interest money to leverage/direct public policy which requires the use of public money isn’t working. The ‘early majority’ support never materialized for the CCSS proponents, probably because the majority of taxpayers were not invited into the ed reform discussion. The NGOs had majority support in their policy wonk/ed reform supplier world, but the taxpayers/legislators on who this was foisted upon never were passionate early adopters. They ‘forgot’ to include the customers who ultimately have to pay for these privately directed reforms.
This attempt by a writer on Ed Week (a Common Core instruction coach) to impune ‘special snowflake’ status on students/parents refusing the test falls flat. None of the article commenters–think of them as the users of the ‘product’ forced on them–buy into the argument that students should take unvalidated and flawed assessments. Of course, the FACT that the assessments are unvalidated and flawed is never put forth in the advertising article designed to shame parents. From What the Opt-Out Movement Teaches Students:
Unfortunately, there is a frightening new sentiment in the education world these days that it is OK for students to pick and choose what they participate in. We are sending a message to our children that if they do not like something or if it seems too difficult, then they do not have to do it. Allowing students to opt out of tests they don’t feel like taking undermines education and harms our students.
As educators, we are charged with deeply understanding where our students are and then doing everything in our power to meet their needs. We need to know where each student is in relationship to their peers. While far from perfect, standardized testing allows us to gauge how children are doing against other students in their age group. It also allows us to look at groups of students to make sure we are meeting the needs of all children.
The civil rights community has spoken out against the opt-out movement, because by looking at sub-groups of children (free and reduced lunch, gender, etc.) we can make sure we are moving all of our children forward and have hard conversations when we are not.
Standardized testing is an integral part of assessing students’ strengths and weaknesses. It is how we choose to use these tests that will define our profession and impact our students. With a balanced approach, we can use tests as one indicator to move our students forward to be prepared to succeed in a global society and to better ensure equity for all students.
The answer isn’t for our students to opt out of testing, but instead it is to prepare them to tackle difficult tasks and overcome challenges in life.
After you read the entire article, read the comments. Not one reader is buying her argument that these standardized assessments are necessary to determine how all children are progressing or harming students collectively. Here is one response pointing out one of her flawed arguments in the article:
Thank you for this interesting viewpoint. I respectfully disagree. There seems to be an unfounded belief that “teachers don’t want to assess their students.” Of course they do! Good teachers are always assessing students. They know where their students’ strengths and needs, and they use that information to provide better instruction. What people are opting out of isn’t the need to assess students, but the over-emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing in today’s schools. The amount of testing in some places and the inordinate amount of emphasis put on the results has resulted in many unintended and well-documented consequences: a narrowing of the curriculum; an inflated sense of the importance of these tests which offer a snapshot of how students did on this particular test on that particular day but little beyond that; and the disappearance of recess, art, music, library time and other supposed “fluff” that doesn’t seem to contribute directly to test performance. These unintended consequences have been documented again and again, but nothing has changed; finally people have just had enough.
The argument that kids should participate in testing because life is hard is nonsensical to me. It reminds me of Alfie Kohn’s column about “Getting Hit on the Head Lessons” http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/09/07/02kohn.h25.html?tkn=UVPFtAVlyXOBJYpGBZozLY7%2BZI1EbTbX8Cb5
Even Arne Duncan admits that there are serious flaws in standardized testing. The opt-out movement has finally created some much-needed attention to a problem that needs to be fixed. So let’s FIX it.
Another reader makes an important point that the issue parents/students have with testing is not testing itself, it’s the amount of testing and the dishonesty from the pro CCSS on the purpose of these standardized assessments:
Standardized testing has been obviously brutal on the educational process, zapping almost all positive stimulation from it. From teachers not being able to truly teach without having to teach to a narrow test, to students having fewer outlets for their creativity and expression at school, we are developing a generation of test-taking robots, not human adults.
Re: civil rights, if that argument had any credibility, civil rights advocates would accept only about 3 tests throughout the entirety of K-12, because that would be all that’s necessary to measure differences between races/classes. So now somebody explain why we need this plethora of bubble tests that ruins education not only for minorities, but every last public school student.
Also note that we *already* know that students coming from poverty do much worse in school, across the board, *without* these tests. So what are the tests *really* for?
The Common Core PR campaign attacking parents/students for being special snowflakes and insisting they melt as not to disrupt the equity for all argument is failing. So why are these articles being published that are nothing but admonishment to parents who are resisting the NGO insistence on increasing the NGO created and privately owned standardized testing? The teacher writing in Ed Week is described as follows: She is an 18 year veteran teacher who holds a master’s degree in education and a sixth-year certificate in administration, and is an America Achieves Teacher Fellow. Who are these America Achieves Fellows and who are the funders?
(click on graphic to enlarge)
Here’s more on Mr. Schnur, Executive Director. Does it seem to you that this organization and its members are heavily invested to help ensure that this administration’s education reforms are realized?
Go beyond the close reading in the Ed Week article. Only then can one truly utilize the ‘critical thinking skills’ necessary to differentiate between advertising one liners vs research based decision making and adherence to law. The surface ‘special snowflake argument’ by these special interest groups belittles the real concern about
- the lack of research/data on the assessments
- the fact that NGOs are in control of the educational decisions determining the need for such unvalidated assessments
- that there is no voter accountability for these NGO decisions on educational direction/development
It’s clear Common Core is defective merchandise that the taxpaying customers are increasingly rejecting. The customers want a purple cow and Common Core just can’t deliver that product. It belongs in that ‘chasm of failures’.
(The slideshare presentation authored by Harlan T. Beverly, Great Products Need Little Advertising: New Product Development may be found here).