Saturday, September 20, 2014

EdPost Dials It Back, Still Whiffs

Over the last forty-eight hours, the rapid responders from Education Post ran into a rapid response of their own. They decided to go after Carol Burris, and while various bloggers called them on their response out in the bloggosphere, Burris and many other responders descended upon the comments section, particularly for the post by the extremely feisty Ann Whalen.

By the end of the day, Whalen was back with a new post and a different tone.

Whalen's first response ("When you can’t make an honest case against something, there is always rhetoric, exaggeration or falsehoods...") pretty much called Burris a liar who couldn't make an honest case for her position. The response response addressed Burris directly and took a less combative tone.

I appreciate your quick follow-up and willingness to engage in a conversation about how we can support success for all of our students. We may have different approaches and strategies, but I do believe at the core (pun intended), we all want what’s best for children and schools. 

And then she tried to address some of the issues that had been re-raised.

The set-in-stone nature of the Core came up, so she tried to once again sell the notion that, gosh, the states "are firmly in the driver’s seat." They can be just a flexible with their college-and-career-ready standards as they want, and several states have used that flexibility which is true in the sense that some states have found it politically expedient to rewrite some of the verbage of CCSS and find new names to call it. She acknowledges that some states have paid a price for not adopting standards that they can sufficiently prove to the feds are CACR enough, but golly, that's not the feds fault. She tries hard to sell the notion of the feds being all handsy offy on the Core, and I just don't understand how she imagines that Burris or any other sentient human who has been paying attention would believe that's true for a second.

The she tosses out the old baloney about how many students arrive at college needing remediation.

Students who are told they have mastered basic skills and are ready for post-secondary work should not find out the dirty truth in college.

Oh, that dirty truth. Of course, many students are arriving at college who were never told they were ready (and how are "mastered basic skills" and "ready for post-secondary work" the same thing, anyway?) I might suggest that it's just as likely that many students who are not college material have been told repeatedly that they must attend college or else they'll be big losing losers.

Here's another conclusion to reach from the remediation numbers-- the reforms that have been forced on public schools over the past ten-plus years have hurt public education more than helping it.

Whalen doesn't try to prop up any of the other ideas that Burris knocked over. But just when I was going to give her credit for adroitly shifting tone and direction, she finishes with this

While I didn’t see many comments on ways we can continue to move forward and improve support and implementation, I do look forward to learning more about your soon-to-be-released solution. Please let us know when we might learn more of this effort.

Oh, Ann. You were doing so well, but then you had to finish up with a big helping of Dolores Umbrage-style snottiness.

Let me repeat this idea for you. It's not up to supporters of public education to propose a solution, because reformsters have never A) proven that there's a problem in need of solving or B) proven that any of their proposals will improve anything about education.

If you want to perform surgery on a patient, the burden is on you to show that you have the right surgery in mind and that you know how to do it. If you want to take money out of someone else's bank account, the burden is on you to prove that you should be allowed to do it.

We've been waiting for years for you guys to back up some-- any-- of your bright ideas with compelling support. It still hasn't happened. You don't get to change the conversation by saying, "Well, what's your big idea, then?" The burden of proof is on you. And really-- why do we need to submit a "solution" for your approval, anyway? The fact that you're on a $12 million website does not mean that you need to be paid attention or that we are answerable to you.


  1. You have an uncommon ability to cut through the BS and see it and say it as it is. I routinely share your posts not only because you say it better than I ever could, but because you make it easier to keep doing what we do. Thank you!

  2. Excellent refutations! And I like the "attitude" at the end. : )

  3. Ah the old college remediation argument. I wonder if Ms. Whalen has actually read research on this topic:

    If so, she would know that colleges complain far too much about students not being "college ready"