Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Conservative Defense of CCSS

Over at the Daily Caller, Robby Soave and Rachel Solzfoos wrote a story in which Michael Brickman of the Fordham Institute labors mightily to construct a conservative defense of the Common Core.

It's a heroic struggle to be sure, as the very first sentence acknowledges, "Conservatives remain deeply skeptical of the Common Core education standards." The Daily Caller's robolinker is not helping; I'm looking at links to a story about how a poor school district wasted money "on lavish Common Core spa trip" and an ad for accredited homeschooling. In this exclusive interview, Brickman tries to combat that conservative blowback and runs directly into one of the central problems of conservatism.

Brickman leads with the "mess of fifty standards" defense of the Core. Many of those standards were just so lacking and students were graduating without necessary proficiencies. The standards "outline types of thinking and skills that students should master by certain grade levels" plus calling for "vigorous high-stakes testing to ensure that kids are actually learning the skills."Lots wrong there, but let's move on.

The article acknowledges the political problems for conservatives and the Core. Although developed by the National Governors Association (a pleasant not-exactly-a-lie, not-exactly-the-truth) and supported by moderate GOP governors like Bush, Jindal and Christie, the CCSS also received support from the Obama administration. That sends up the "protect local control from federal overreach" warning flags for conservatives.

Brickman says the feds should not have coerced the states into accepting the Core, but they are totes worth adopting. This is the modern conservative problem-- there are things you ought to do, but the government should not make you do them. This often comes out as "It's only federal overreach if the feds are making you do something wrong."

Brickman threads the needle and lands on “There are absolutely legitimate, uh, examples of federal overreach from the Obama administration, but I don’t think Common Core is one of them because… It was something that was led by the governors and the state education chiefs.” And nicely played, Daily Caller, in leaving the "uh" in his quote. It's okay-- I don't believe his bullshit story, either.  And anyway, Brickman adds, the feds doing way worse overreach stuff over there. Don't be distracted by the Common Core (when I rather wish you'd be distracted FROM the Common Core instead).

No, conservatives should be clamoring for their local authorities to embrace and preserve the Core. So again-- don't let the feds tell you what to do, but make sure that your local authorities do what the feds want you to do. It's very hard to be a conservative these days.

Next Brickman reminds us that the CCSS are under attack from Tea Partiers and teacher unions. Also, the Monster in your Closet wants to attack it. Booga-booga! A paragraph later he also acknowledges that other members of the Right-ish Thinky Tank Club have also come out against the Core (here's one from just this morning) but Fordham is well paid by Bill Gates sure the others are wrong.

Only in the last paragraph does Daily Caller let Brickman get something right, which is that eradicating CCSS doesn't really solve your wacky bad homework problem or your government mind-control through grammar homework problem.

So the argument fails as a defense and fails as conservatism. In fairness, I haven't seen anybody concoct a good liberal defense for CCSS, either. I'd wager that's because CCSS isn't so much politically charged as it's just bad. Corporate power grabs are pan-political, and Democrats and Republicans of all stripes have been happy to jump on the gravy train. Fordham is a conservative voice that has received a truckload of money from the Gates Foundation. It's funny how sometimes green is a much stronger color than red or blue.

1 comment:

  1. Green is the color, whether we are talking about political party or race.