Is this C-Span interview factual or PR spin on Common Core by Michael Petrilli? You decide.


Right before Fordham Institute’s meeting on how to restructure State Education Agencies, Michael Petrilli appeared on CSpan talking about the Common Core State Standards:



It’s a fascinating 51:00 interview with comments from teachers and their frustrations about the Standards.  Listen to Petrilli’s response to the teacher’s (Sarah) comments at around 17:30.  She describes her difficulty in teaching when she is micromanaging targets and trying to create a love of learning.  She “knows” how her students are progressing without excessive testing.

He starts out by being sympathetic, but morphs into the reasoning that the new standards are “harder” and that they are needed because so many state standards were low.   He says teachers need more support, training and materials because it will be hard.  He said something else very interesting in his response to the host: I wish, Steve, we were talking more about this, but instead, we are talking about the politics around this.   He wants to not talk about the authentic discussion on the standards being inappropriate, nor the argument that the standards are copyrighted and cannot be changed, even if they are harming students.

Kudos to the retired North Carolina teacher Steve at 28:41.  He tells Petrilli that the most important influence in a child’s life is parent’s, that NCLB was designed to fail with teachers being blamed, there is not enough money for any of these programs and he asks about Petrilli’s background as a teacher.  Steve (in a very nice Southern accented manner) blasts education gurus who make policy but don’t know what’s going on in the classroom.  He asks how many years Petrilli taught in a classroom.

Petrilli agrees that student success primarily depends on parent involvement, but he immediately deflects the argument about parental influence by stating that many children (not a majority) don’t have strong parental influence so we have to help them.  Apparently that means that if even a minority number of children do not have strong families, all students must adopt the system of education centered around programs giving government more power over students while reducing the power of whatever family influence there is for those students.

He does not respond to the structure of the federal mandates, the lack of money and the host redirects him to the question of his educational background.  Petrilli received his teaching certificate and taught two years in an outdoor educational setting at Camp Joy in Clarkesville, Ohio:


(click to enlarge)

camp joy

He holds  a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  It doesn’t seem as if he has any actual traditional classroom experience.  He describes his teaching experience as teaching in a camp.  It’s reminiscent of David Coleman’s teaching experience teaching reading in the summer.  These men are writing standards and pushing policy and have no real classroom experience in testing and standards.  They can’t spin that fact.


These are just a couple of snippets from this interview.  We’ll be writing about other exchanges in the next few weeks.  The callers overwhelmingly were not positive about this initiative.  He spins his way through talking about the testing, the role of the states, and how teachers were involved in the drafting of the standards.  See what your favorite exchanges are and if he is telling the truth or spinning the facts to make Common Core palatable to the viewers.  I’m thinking this is a great interview for those of you who know the facts about Common Core to watch and learn how spin trumps the reality of how Common Core was adopted and implemented.  It’s an interesting study of technique on how people’s concerns are not really addressed and the conversation gets redirected to push an agenda.


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