This comment came from a reader:


In response to the Frank Bruni article in the NYT I wanted to share with you what I shared with my colleagues at the Schlechty Center. I am a Senior Associate with the Center, a former school superintendent in Texas and was heavily involved in the effort of the Texas Association of School Administrators in developing the document, “Creating A New Vision for Public Education in Texas”, with which you are familiar. Here is what I shared:

We have always had some parents who were over protective, but to use current parental reactions to Common Core and abusive uses of standardized tests as evidence that todays children are being “coddled” is a gross misinterpretation of what parents are saying. The “suburban white moms” comment from Secretary Duncan, which was the trigger for this article, is a misinterpretation and a misrepresentation as well as a mischaracterization. The suburban schools I am familiar with are highly competitive environments and in many cases a lot of children are pushed too hard, are expected to be involved in numerous organized activities in and out of school, leaving little time to “be children”.

More disturbing is how dismissive the author is of the critics of Common Core and the associated testing. He categorized the critics from extreme conservative to extreme liberal and those engaging in imaginary conspiracies about privatization. The latter is a veiled slap at the work of Diane Ravitch. The criticism of CC and the test-based accountability are real, growing, and based on legitimate concerns. The privatization movement is well substantiated. To reframe the discussion as “too much coddling” may be an attempt to shift the focus of the debate. The fact that 17 states are now backing away from Common Core is probably alarming to the so-called “reformers”, Secretary Duncan, Jeb Bush, etc. –and perhaps to this author.

If one looks closely at the criticisms, they are more about the standardized tests, arbitrary cut scores, and failing labels, etc., as the single means of assessing and reporting on the Common Core, than they are about the standards themselves. As Phil has asserted for years, when high stakes are attached to the assessments, the assessments become the standards.

John Horn