Sunday, May 25, 2014

CAP Serves Some CCSS Baloney

The Center for American Progress came down hard for the Common Core last week, providing yet another field test for the 100% baloney sandwich that is the Core's urban poor talking point menu.

In "The Common Core Is An Opportunity for Educational Equity,", CAP asserts, "The Common Core State Standards hold promise for low-income students, students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities, who traditionally perform significantly worse than their peers." And you know that this is a serious position paper because it has footnotes and stuff. What it doesn't have is sense.

Quality Control

The standards will act as a "quality-control check," and let's just stop right there, because do you know, CAPsters, how a quality control check works? Because this seems to be a point on which many CCSS supporters are really fuzzy.

Quality control does not mean that every piece that rolls down the assembly line is now suddenly up to standard. What quality control means is that we check every piece on the line, and when we find pieces that don't meet the standard we throw them away. Quality control does not mean every toaster will be perfect-- it means that every toaster that makes it out of the factory will be perfect.

Using Common Core standards as quality control can only mean one thing-- we will find the students who don't meet the standards and we will throw them away. This is really, really wrong and completely counter to the point of American public education and I can't believe I even have to type that out, but apparently I do.

Out of the Stone Age

Students will explore concepts deeply, work together to solve complex problems, and engage in project-based learning—instead of focusing on worksheets and rote memorization. 

Yes, because no teacher in the history of teacherdom ever knew how to teach concepts or cooperative learning or anything except worksheets before CCSS.

Highlighting Educational Gaps

In this section, CAP notes that low-income students and students of color are less likely to have access to higher-level courses, are more likely to have inexperienced or out-of-area teachers, and along with ELL and students with disabilities are less likely to graduate on time. They have footnotes, and I have no reason to doubt that these are all true facts.

Students of Color and Low Income Students Have Lower College Outcomes

Fewer of these students attend college and a high percentage of them need remedial courses. Again, I believe that by and large this is all true.

And Now That We've Wound Up, The Pitch!

So having established the need, I expect we're now going to make a case for how the implementation of CCSS will help address these issues and-- wait! What? Ummm... no, this is the whole conclusion, verbatim:

The Common Core will improve education quality for all students—particularly traditionally underserved students. Raising standards and preparing all students for college and careers will help reduce the disparities identified for low-income students, students of color, ELLs, and students with disabilities.

But-but-but--HOW!! Fairy dust! Magic beans! I mean, hell, I can type "Eating a baloney sandwich every day will make me grow tall, handsome and wise," but that doesn't make it so! Are you not even going to TRY to explain how Common Core will help? Not even try a teensy weensy bit??

Because-- and I don't think you need me to tell you this, but I want you to know that I know-- those are serious issues that you've laid out. Inequality of opportunity, of education, of employment, or health care-- this is a bit of a national shame. The fact that schools intended for the urban poor are underserved, underresourced, underfunded, understaffed-- I mean, all those things you listed as gapos and problems are things that we really ought to be trying to fix.

But here we are in the hospital ER looking at a patient who has been hit by a truck, who is broken and bleeding, and you want to offer him a magical baloney sandwich??!! Come on, CAP. You can do better than this.


  1. Oh, you missed who the quality control check was for! It's not for the poor, precious students. It's for the lazy teachers. Those are the ones who will need to turn into bright, shiny automatons--or get fired.

  2. Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner! Here's your Kewpie Doll, Courtney.

  3. I think quality control check is all inclusive. No discrimination for either students or teachers. Just throw them all out.

    Peter, You have written yet another piece that squarely hits the bulls-eye on the truth target with just the right humor in a not-so-humorous situation. Thanks for being the voice for the teachers, the parents and the kids.

  4. This is actually the most frustrating piece of common core propaganda, to me. I know urban education. I know math. I know exactly what the common core math says -- every single word. Peter is asking the right questions: HOW, exactly, will common core make one tiny bit of difference ?
    It's not like we have states that are completely urban, that have crappy state standards, and other states that have no urban schools, with great standards, so now we're putting in great standards for the states that have crappy ones and are 100% urban. In fact, urban schools are part of states that have huge numbers of successful schools -- all subject to EXACTLY the same state standards, and with different results. So, obviously, standards don't matter, at least not on this issue. P-O-V-E-R-T-Y.
    One other thing: my urban school is THE most successful in my state, and probably in the top 5 nationally as an urban school. We'll have to start using common core next year (and we will do so because we are obedient soldiers, salvaging its wrongnesses as best we can) -- it will not dramatically increase, nor probably decrease, at least not much, our success. Certainly, to achieve the success we have, we didn't need common core. What we do need are money, wraparound services, support in the community, etc. As Peter would say, because, poverty.