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July 28, 2014

"The Common Core Commotion Haven’t we seen this movie before?"

Magnificent attack on education reform by Andrew Ferguson. Virtually no one escapes. He concludes as follows:

The delays and distancing suggest a cloudy future for the Common Core. Even its advocates say that the best possible outcome for now involves a great deal more unpleasantness: The tests will be given to many students beginning next spring, and the results will demonstrate the catastrophic state of learning in American schools. Of course, we knew that, but still. “Maybe this will be a reality check,” one booster told me the other day. “People will take a look at the results and say, ‘Aha! So this is what they’ve been talking about!’ It will send a very strong signal.”

It would indeed, but a signal to do what? Educationists don’t like unpleasantness; it’s not what they signed up for when they became reformers. We already know what happened when NCLB state tests exposed the reality of American public schools. It was time for a new reform. 

In that case, Common Core would survive, but only as NCLB survives—as a velleity, a whiff of a hint of a memory of a gesture toward an aspiration for excellence. And the educationists will grow restless. Someone somewhere will come up with a new reform program, a whole new approach—one with teeth, and high-stakes consequences for stakeholders. Bill Gates will get wind of it. He will be intrigued. His researchers will design experiments to make sure the program is scientifically sound. Data will be released at seminars, and union leadership will lend tentative support. The president will declare a crisis and make reform a national priority. She will want to be called an education president too.

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