Tuesday, August 18, 2015

CAP Flubs Again

I'm pretty sure that CAP has lost its collective mind. This months has been marked by a pair of CAP offerings (here and here) that seem to indicate the august allegedly lefty thinky tank is running its PR wing out of a time machine parked in 2013.

Now they are touting the result of a poll they commissioned from Public Policy Polling under the Lesley Knope-ish press release headline:

New PPP Poll Shows that the Development and Aims of the Common Core Are More Popular Than Baseball, Kittens, and Bacon—But Misinformation About the Common Core Pervades

It is hard to know how to take the last part of that header, since the press release that follows it champions a brace of undead misinformation that apparently did not die the last sixty gazillion times it was put to rest. No, here it is, still searching for brains. Let's go shambling down memory lane, shall we?

It's Just the Brand

Remember this one? People totes love the ideas behind Common Core-- they've just been turned off to the branding. Why, 90% (of the 675 people we asked) love the idea of higher standards that would make us competitive in the world, 82% think we should develop standards with teachers and states, 79% think we should have high quality English and math standards while letting local schools set curriculum, and 78% love the annual test idea.

So what? This is a lovely rhetorical trick that assumes the sale, begs the question, cheats the answer, and screws the pooch. Yes, I love baseball, kittens, and bacon, but if you offer me a baseball game between a team of six year olds and a wheelchair team, a kitten that has been dead and lying beside the road for a month, and uncooked bacon wrapped around Greek yogurt, I will not thank you!

I love my wife. She's named Amanda. It does not follow that I will love any woman named Amanda. I love lunch. It does not follow that I will love any crap you stick on a plate and call lunch. I love the idea of having all my hair back. It does not follow that I will buy whatever snake oil you pitch as hair restorant.

People may well love all those things you listed, CAP. It does not follow that Common Core is any of those things. Standards don't make nations competitive. The Core were not developed by teachers. The implementation of the Core that we got takes most local curricular control away. The annual tests that we got are crap.

Politics! Eww!!

Unfortunately, opponents of the Common Core have embarked on misinformation campaigns in order to create widespread confusion among voters or to score political points.

That's from Catherine Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at CAP, a group of political operatives, many of whom aren't currently on duty because they have gone back to their real jobs-- working as political operatives for Hillary Clinton. The standards were born of politics, hatched by politics, pushed on states by politics, and promoted by politics. You don't get to disown politics now.

The Central Lie

“These survey results show that the goals of the Common Core are quite popular when tested piece by piece,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. “People aren’t exactly sure what’s in the Common Core, but when asked about its provisions, they wholeheartedly support them across demographic lines.”

Emphasis mine. Because what he meant to say was "when asked about things that we claim are provisions of Common Core..."

Other Lies

Just 4 percent of voters know that teachers helped develop the Common Core

Well, yes. For the same reason only 4% of Americans know that Barack Obama is actually an alien lizard king. Only 4% of voters know this because IT IS NOT ACTUALLY TRUE!

Nearly half of voters think that the Common Core prescribes a specific curriculum,

And they're not really wrong. Well, this is technically not true, but practically speaking, CCSS was pitched as a the exact steps to follow to come up with a curriculum. The kit for building a pole barn is not a pole barn, but you are not going to build a Lamborghini out of it.

But hey-- lots of us were talking about this a lot-- over a year ago.

72 percent of voters believe that standardized tests take up more time than they actually do. A recent CAP report showed that students spend, on average, 1.6 percent of instructional time or less taking tests.

Again, voters are perhaps "confused" because they base their ideas on reality and not reformster press releases. And in reality, students are spending huge amounts of time on practice tests, pre tests and classes in which the curriculum has been bent toward test prep. (See also here and here for old posts where we were all talking about this a year ago).

Running out of Headlines

Seriously. I am running out of titles to use on pieces about how CAP has put out talking points that were debunked, gutted, and buried ages ago. I am straining my noggin trying to imagine what audience they imagine for these PR blasts? People who have been in a coma for a year or two? People who live under rocks?

Are the people running CAP lost because all the grownups are all busy helping Clinton run for office? Are they confused, ballsy or lazy? Whatever the case, they have got to do better, because this baloney is not advancing anybody's conversation with anybody.


  1. Unbelievable. CAP really needs to get out more.

    I especially love the alien lizard king.

  2. I love your alien lizard king analogy too.

  3. I love your alien lizard king analogy too.

  4. In her NYT letter this weekend, Common Core-supporter Randi Weingarten spoke of the botched roll-out: "Think of the debacle in New York: testing kids on content covered under the new Common Core standards before giving teachers the time, curriculum or latitude to actually teach that content." This comment does not merely imply, but states outright that the Common Core is not merely standards, but is specific content and curriculum that must be given to teachers, presumably before the school year starts. --Chris Cotton cottonc1961@gmail.com

  5. Except teachers actually did help develop the Coon Core! http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/development-process/

    1. Nope. Your link is to Core promoters own PR, which is part misleading and part incorrect. The actual writers of the standards included just one person with teaching experience, and the claim that comments were accepted from teachers and parents is laughable, and there's no reason to believe that any of those comments had any substantive effect on the standards.

      All of that has been fully documented elsewhere-- you can start with Mercedes Schneider's work on the subject (https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/those-24-common-core-2009-work-group-members/). Claiming that teachers helped develop the Core is on par with arguing that the world really is flat.

  6. Here's a CAP article about the wonderful things happening in math education because of Common Core: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2015/08/13/119239/math-matters/

    In North Carolina, the Common Core math curriculum at the high school level was atrocious. My 9th graders math class was the most poorly designed course I have ever seen. The course jumped from one topic to another on a daily basis with no connecting thread. Spending only one day on rational equations is educational malpractice. Fortunately, the state is rethinking its high school math curriculum. I just with we could go back to what we had before. At least it was better.

  7. CAP is staffed by the Undead. They were buried when the nomination went to Obama, so they have been lost in time, 2008, to be exact. We didn't have CCSS back in those happy days, so they're a bit disoriented now that they have been revitalized.

  8. @laMissy "They were buried when the nomination went to Obama..."

    All the more reason for teachers to vote Sanders, to even write him in if he allows that. Hell, maybe even if he doesn't.