Recently I published a comment by Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts explaining his opposition to the Common Core State Standards. I thought it was interesting as it showed the conservative argument against the Common Core.
The comment was originally part of an email exchange between Jamie Gass and Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute, a New York City-based conservative think tank. Sol is an old friend of mine, who has been writing about education and politics for many years. Sol contacted me to say that I should have printed the entire exchange, not just Jamie’s response to him.
So, I am rectifying the situation by first giving you a link to an article by Sol Stern about E.D. Hirsch and the Core Knowledge curriculum. It was just published online at the City Journal website, which belongs to the Manhattan Institute. Sol argues that the Hirsch curriculum will align well with the Common Core standards and should bring renewed attention to the Core Knowledge curriculum.
When Sol sent the article to several friends, including me, Jamie Gass responded. Jamie is very disappointed that Massachusetts was compelled to drop its highly regarded state standards and to replace them with the Common Core standards.
Sol asked me to republish the entire correspondence so that readers can understand the discussion.
So, here is the drill if you want to read on.
First, read Sol’s article. Then read the correspondence, starting from the bottom. The only thing I changed is that I removed the email addresses of those who received a copy, as there was no reason to publish them.
Please start reading at the bottom
As PI’s independent research has shown, the CCSSI standards are far lower than what the best states previously had; none of the major CCSSI proponents have improved student achievement anywhere in the last 25 years; and federal support for national standards, testing, and curriculum is, in fact, illegal and unconstitutional.
As John Adam said, “Facts are stubborn things.”
Sol Stern [mailto:email@example.com
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 4:48 PM
Re: Hirsch and the Common Core
We are obviously beyond any reasonable debate on this, since you insist — without a shred of evidence — that those who disagree with you are just shills who are in it for the money. That’s a pretty low standard of discourse for a movement supposedly concerned with improving education.
My final and last word: I think the “sad and disgraceful chapter in the history of education public education” is the federal government forcing school districts to use a discredited and unscientific method of evaluating teachers — and I don’t see Pioneer or any of the “reform” groups pushing back against this looming disaster.
given the mediocre records of its major advocates, I see nothing in CCSSI that will reverse this trend towards decline, or any evidence that CCSSI’s one-stop-shopping-for-lower-standards won’t, in fact, dramatically accelerate a race to the middle.
Monday, July 16, 2012 6:16 PM
Re: Hirsch and the Common Core
Sorry Jamie, CCSSI didn’t ruin MA standards or programs. Your governor and legislature did and your job at Pioneer should have been to convince the state to reject Race to the Top, stick to the 1993 reforms and make them even stronger by implementing a Core Knowledge K-12 curriculum. And if Will is right about CCSSI violating all those laws it should be a snap for you to hire some good lawyers and go into federal court to throw out Common Core. Please, make my day.
Thanks, Sol. I always like reading your pieces.
People can also read the attached (embargoed) Pioneer piece on MA and CCSSI, which appears in the current issue of City Journal.Our article explains how the CCSSIers helped ruin the most successful, proven academic standards/ed reform effort of the last half century. Interestingly, I can’t find one CCSSIer, or Gates-funded advocate, who has actually improved student achievement more than a tiny bit anywhere in the last 20 years. Ahem, think — Fordham, Ohio, and NAEP results J
I’d also encourage everyone to read George Will’s March column on how CCSSI violates three federal laws. Will’s column, of course, implicitly shows how the CCSSIers offer a terrific anti-civics lesson for America’s 50 million schoolchildren.
Those pesky things called laws
Two policies of the Obama administration illustrate an axiom: As government expands, its lawfulness contracts. Consider the administration’s desire to continue funding UNESCO and to develop a national curriculum for primary and secondary education.
In 1994, Congress stipulated that no U.S. funds shall go to “any affiliated organization” of the United Nations that “grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood.”
Last October, UNESCO (the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)voted to confer membership
on Palestine. Although there are waiver provisions in most laws restricting executive discretion in foreign relations, the 107 national delegations that voted to extend membership to Palestine were told there is no such provision in the pertinent law.
The United States immediately cut off funding, which is 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget. But President Obama’s 2013 budget
seeks $78,968,000 for UNESCO and says: “The Department of State intends to work with Congress to seek legislation that would provide authority to waive restrictions on paying the U.S. assessed contributions to UNESCO.”
The administration regards the 18-year-old statute as an evanescent inconvenience — that Congress will obediently tug its forelock and grant a waiver provision enabling the executive branch to slip the leash of law.
Meanwhile, the Education Department is pretending that three laws do not mean what they clearly say.
This is documented in the Pioneer Institute’s report
“The Road to a National Curriculum: The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers” by Robert S. Eitel, Kent D. Talbert and Williamson M. Evers, all former senior officials in the Education Department.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — No Child Left Behind is its ninth iteration — intruded the federal government into this traditionally state and local responsibility. It said that “nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” a state’s, local educational agency’s or school’s curriculum.
The General Education Provisions Act of 1970, which supposedly controls federal education programs, stipulates that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize” any federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instructional materials” by “any educational institution or school system.”
The 1979 law establishing the Education Department forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school or school system. The ESEA as amended goes further: No funds provided to the Education Department “may be used . . . to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in” kindergarten through 12th grade.
What authors Eitel, Talbert and Evers call the Education Department’s “incremental march down the road to a national curriculum” begins with the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS). It is an initiative not of any state legislature but of a governors association, state school officials and private foundations.
This push advanced when the Race to the Top Fund (RTTT, part of the 2009 stimulus) said that peer reviewers of applications for money should favor those states that join a majority of states in developing and adopting common standards. The 11 states and the District of Columbia that won Race to the Top funding had adopted or indicated an intention to adopt the CCSS, which will require changes in curricula.
An Education Department synopsis of discussions with members of the public about priorities in competition for RTTT money says “the goal of common K-12 standards is to replace the existing patchwork of state standards.” Progressives celebrate diversity in everything but thought.
The Obama administration is granting conditional waivers
to states chafing under No Child Left Behind’s unrealistic accountability requirements. The waivers are contingent on each state adopting certain standards “that are common to a significant number of states,” or the state may adopt standards endorsed by its institutions of higher education — if
those standards are consistent with the Education Department’s guidelines.
We have been warned. Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration, noted that “in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”
Here again laws are cobwebs. As government becomes bigger, it becomes more lawless. As the regulatory state’s micromanagement of society
metastasizes, inconvenient laws are construed — by those the laws are supposed to restrain — as porous and permissive, enabling the executive branch to render them nullities.
My article on Don Hirsch and the Common Core in the new City Journal. Please do not link on line till it appears on the CJ website