In story after story, the New York Times consistently misses the essence of the controversy surrounding Common Core.
Today’s New York Times gives its lead article on page 1, column right, top of the fold, to the battle raging within the Republican party, about the Common Core. On one side is Jeb Bush, standing up for the Common Core standards (presumably a moderate, let’s not talk about his fight for vouchers and for the destruction of public education in Florida), while on the other are figures like Ted Cruz and other extremists of the party. Common Core, we are told, is now the “wedge issue” in the Republican party, with sensible people like Jeb Bush fending off the extremists.
A few weeks ago, the newspaper wrote an editorial enthusiastically endorsing the Common Core standards, while giving no evidence for its enthusiasm other than the promises offered by the advocates of Common Core.
Story after story has repeated the narrative invented by Arne Duncan, that the only opponents of the Common Core are members of the Tea Party and other extremists.
Occasionally a story will refer to extremists of the right and the left, as though no reasonable person could possibly doubt the claims made on behalf of the Common Core.
Of course, David Brooks’ column on Friday echoed the now familiar trope of the Times, that only extremists could oppose this worthy and entirely laudable endeavor.
Missing is any acknowledgement of the many researchers who have challenged the wacky assumption that standards alone will cause everyone’s achievement to rise higher and higher, despite no evidence for this assertion.
Missing is any recognition that there are reputable educators and scholars and parents who are disturbed either by the substance of the standards or by the development process (Anthony Cody, for example, just won the Education Writers Association’s first prize award for his series of blogs challenging the claims of the Common Core).
Missing is the pushback from teachers that caused the leaders of the NEA and the AFT to call for a slowdown in implementation of the standards (the media sees this only as teachers’ fear of being evaluated by tests).
Missing is the concern of early childhood educators about the developmental inappropriateness of the standards for the early grades, which reflects the fact that no early childhood educator participated in drafting the standards. Also missing from the writing group was any educator knowledgeable about children with disabilities or English language learners.
Missing is any acknowledgement that not a single classroom teacher was included in the small group that wrote the standards, and that the largest contingent on the “working groups” was from the testing industry.
Missing is any suggestion that the writing of the standards was not “state-led,” but was the product of a small group of insider organizations inside the Beltway, heavily funded by one organization, the Gates Foundation.
Missing is any recognition that there is no appeals process, no means to revise standards that make no sense when applied in real classrooms with real students.
Missing is any awareness that the Obama administration made eligibility for $4.35 billion in Race to the Top funding contingent on state adoption of “college and career ready” standards, which turned out to be the Common Core standards. How else to explain their rapid adoption by 45 states?
Missing is any acknowledgement that there is very little connection between the quality of any state’s standards and its performances on the NAEP, or that some states with standards higher than the Common Core dropped their proven standards so as to be eligible for the new federal funding.
Missing is any recognition that the Common Core standards are an essential ingredient in a Big Data plan that involves a multibillion dollar investment in new hardware, new software, and new bandwidth for Common Core testing, all of which will be done (for no good reason) online.
Missing is the issue of value-added measurement of teachers and school-closings based on test scores, or the fact that major scholarly organizations (the American Educational Research Association, the National Academy of Education, and the American Statistical Association) have pointed out the inaccuracy and instability of VAM. Nor has it ever been reported by the “Times” that these same organizations have said that teachers’ influence on variation in test scores ranges from 1-15%, with the influence of the family, especially family income and education, looming far larger.
Question: How can the nation’s “newspaper of record” be so seriously indifferent to or ignorant of the major education issue of our day?