Mercedes Schneider has discovered a new public relations campaign to sell the Common Core, especially in California, where the state has not jumped head first into testing, as New York did.
Since public support, especially teacher support, for Common Core appears to be evaporating, it makes sense to hire a sophisticated group of communications experts to redesign the sales campaign.
No more crisis talk (quick, someone tell Arne and Bill)!
No more bad-mouthing our kids. After all, if they are so far behind, how can they meet new standards?
Downplay the blame game, downplay the importance of competition, downplay the high-stakes testing. Those tropes don’t work. They discourage support.
The good words are innovation, excellent teaching, systemic, etc.
As a teacher, Schneider is not convinced: “Just because someone hands me a tablecloth, calls it a cape, and tells me to tie it to my back does not mean that if I jump from my roof, I will fly.”
She could have used that great line about putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.
As for Common Core, no amount of high-priced PR can save it. The more that teachers learn about it, the less they like it. How else to account for teacher support falling from 76% to 46% in a single year?
Common Core is not simply a toxic brand, as some of its defenders believe. It got one of the greatest send-offs in history, adopted by 45 states even though no one was sure exactly what it was. It came wrapped in such grandiose claims that it was bound to flop. There was no evidence that Common Core standards would improve education, raise test scores, narrow the achievement gaps, make children globally competitive or college and career-ready.
If there is a lesson to be learned from this fiasco, it is that process matters, evidence matters. Money can buy elections, but money alone is not enough to buy control of American education. A change as massive as national standards requires the willing and enthusiastic by educators, parents, and communities. Arne Duncan and Bill Gates thought they could bypass those groups, if they funded enough of their leadership organizations. They thought they could design the standards they thought best and impose them on the nation. It is not working. As New York high school principal Carol Burris said recently about Common Core, stick a fork in it, it’s done.