Marc Tucker has published what he says will be the final round in his debate with me.

He noticed that I never actually responded to his first two posts. I printed the views of others.

I have not debated him because I don’t see how it is possible to debate a hypothetical.

OK, we can debate whether the moon is made of green cheese, but I am too busy to debate that.

Or we could debate whether test scores will go up or fall if we give every student access to medical care.

But we won’t know until we try.

He thinks the Common Core standards are fabulous; I don’t know whether they are good or not because they have never been field-tested. He doesn’t see the necessity of field-testing, but I disagree. You don’t impose new standards, new tests, and new everything without some advance knowledge about their consequences.

Do we know if they will improve students’ knowledge and understanding of math and reading and other subjects? No.

Do we know if they will widen the achievement gaps between students of different races and students from high- and low-income families? No, we do not.

Do we know if they are developmentally appropriate for children in K-3? No, we do not.

Wouldn’t it be useful to know these things before we change everything? I think so, Marc does not.

I don’t understand how we can debate a topic in which we know so little.

Here is what I do know.

The most reliable predictor of test scores is family income.

The Common Core will have no impact whatever in changing the scandalous proportion of children who live in poverty in this nation. Nearly a quarter of our children are living in poverty, as compared to far smaller proportions in other societies. If we were to make a dent on that number, bring it down to, say, 15%, that would have a bigger impact on test scores than Common Core. But that is just my guess.

The common wisdom, repeatedly predicted by state superintendents, is that test scores will drop by 30% or so when the Common Core standards are assessed because the tests are “harder.” This will feed the corporate reform narrative that “our schools are failing.” They will use the new stats to attack public education and demand more vouchers and more charters and more privatization. The entrepreneurs are eagerly awaiting the moment when the bad scores are announced, as it will give them new opportunities to sell their edu-schlock.

The fact that David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards, was an original member of the board of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst–the corporate reformers’ attack machine against public education–is no comfort. The other members of her original board were Jason Zimba, who wrote the Common Core math standards, and a third person, who worked for Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners. In other words, Rhee’s board was the same as the Common Core leadership.

There, Marc, I debated you.