Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Petrilli Warns of the Day After

Fordham has deployed the Damage Control team of Michael Petrilli  to put up an article at the Governing website. Petrilli and his sidekick Michael Brickman (who, sadly, did not even get his picture on this article for which he's billed as co-writer) have a warning for Common Core foes:

Like a dog that finally catches the bus he'd been chasing forever, what happens when opponents of the Common Core State Standards finally succeed in getting a state's policymakers to "repeal" the education initiative? Early signs from Indiana and elsewhere suggest that the opponents' stated goals are likely to get run over.

The Thomas B. Fordham Insitute is a thinky tank that famously was paid both to promote and evaluate the Core, and they've been carrying water for it ever since. In particular, Fordham has been trying to thread the needle of whipping up conservative support for the Core. This article hints about the newest angle of spin they'll be attempting.

Petrilli acknowledges that opposition to CCSS is not "monolithic," and he proceeds to break it down. On the right we have Libertarians who want states to reject everything, and conservatives who want higher standards. Both want to get the feds out of the ed biz; Petrilli and Brickman think those folks are swell. On the left, "the National Education Association sees an opportunity to push back against a policy it never liked in the first place." Lefties object to the Core because of teacher evaluations and the standards being "too hard." Petrilli and Brickman think these guys are full of it.

Indiana and Oklahoma are hitting the rewind button hard, but no state is giving up the whole package because they don't want to give up the money attached, and because they don't trust the schools to do right by students if there aren't measures and sanctions.

But Indiana critics are also unhappy because the new standards look a lot like the Core (only, Petrilli claims, wimpier and suckier). But they should not be surprised, because "if the goal is to align the Hoosier K-12 system with the expectations of colleges and employers, standards drafters will inexorably come to many of the same conclusions."

See? If you want to get your students ready for college and career, you will unavoidably reach the exact same conclusions as the crafters of the Core, because they were just that good and just that correct, and one size really does fit all.

Indiana's new standards (like other "new" standards) don't AT ALL resemble CCSS because state leaders were trying to get rid of the political albatross of the Common Core brand without pissing off Arne Duncan and his Big Buckets of Money. The new standards' resemblance to the Core is not the result of political tap-dancing-- it's the result of the inevitable, inescapable Rightness of the Core. Relax. One way or another, you will all be assimilated.

What about states that want to keep the Core and ditch the Tests? Petrilli warns that new tests will be really, really expensive (not like the PARCC and SBA with their annual massive per-student costs added on top of a complete rebuild of computer infrastructure-- those things were a damn bargain).

What about the criticism that we aren't allowed to change or alter the Core. Of all the people who have pointed this True Thing out, Petrilli picks Phyllis Schafly (!!!) to carry that quote. He says, sure, states can make changes, like how some states added cursive writing, and I guess Petrelli conveniently forgot the 15% rule on additions. Though honestly-- he probably has a point here. If you do mess with the Core exactly who is going to come after you, and with what?

"Is there a better way forward?" Short Petrilli answer-- no. Leaders should grasp the business case for the Core (not the educational one, Mike?) "Half measures designed to mollify the critics will not cut it. The best that policymakers can do is to give voice to their concerns and then get out of the way." And so we return to one of the recurring themes of the Reformsters-- Democracy sucks, and people who aren't as wise as their betters should just be ignored.

It's worth noting that the CCSS support has shifted. From "Don't even go near that door" we've shifted to "Don't even put your hand on the doorknob" to "Okay, well, you may have turned the handle, but you better not pull the door the rest -- no no-- don't open it any more!!" You'll be sorry. Big costs and much inconvenience, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!I look forward to his next column, "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home."

[Edited: Apparently I don't know how to spell Mike Petrilli's name before I've had my morning bagel]


  1. That about covers it. *sigh*

    That's another guy who could stand less use of his name in print.... if you get my drift. *wink*

  2. "It's worth noting that the CCSS support has shifted. From "Don't even go near that door" we've shifted to "Don't even put your hand on the doorknob" to "Okay, well, you may have turned the handle, but you better not pull the door the rest -- no no-- don't open it any more!!" You'll be sorry."

    At the end of this story, does Petrilli turn out to be Grover? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JVK0-4HQTY