Confusion over National Standards

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I greatly admire both Jeb Bush and Joel Klein, so I have mixed feelings saying that I’m confused about their op-ed this morning.

The article is entitled “The Case for Common Educational Standards.” But the article does not contain any case for common educational standards.

Quite the contrary, the article emphasizes the case against common standards. As in:

And, while education is a national priority, the answer here does not appear to be a new federal program mandating national standards. States have historically had the primary responsibility for public education, and they should continue to take the lead.

So that would be an argument against common standards.

It is the states’ responsibility to foster an education system that leads to rising student achievement. State leaders, educators, teachers and parents are empowered to ensure every student has access to the best curriculum and learning environment. Governors and lawmakers across the country are acting to adopt bold education reform policies. This is the beauty of our federal system. It provides 50 testing sites for reform and innovation.

Again, a great argument against common standards.

Bush and Klein depict the Common Core standards and the two testing consortia as products of state, not federal, initiative. As regular readers of JPGB know, there’s another reality behind that superficial appearance. If Common Core and the testing consortia are really state-driven, why has the federal government spent more than a year pushing states into them, openly and explicitly threatening loss of Title I funds to states that fail to kowtow? Why are the consortia federally funded (and therefore federally controlled)? Is it even possible for these efforts to be genuinely state-driven when the federal behemoth is openly using its funding club to threaten everyone to get on board? Bush and Klein fail to mention these issues.

However, let’s leave all that to one side. Let’s pretend – even though we know it’s false – that these efforts are really state driven. Why is it valuable for states to do these things together in a single group? If states should lead the way, if what we want is a decentralized 50-state laboratory of democracy, why not actually do that instead of rounding up all the states to all do it one way?

Bush and Klein argue that standards are being set nationally (in “common”) but pedagogy isn’t. Once again, let’s leave aside the reality that you can’t have national (common) standards while preserving freedom and diversity of pedagogy. Let’s pretend you can set national standards and then let a thousand flowers bloom on pedagogy. Why do it? Why is it valuable to set a single national (common) standard? The article’s title promises an answer to that question, but the article doesn’t deliver.

If, as Bush and Klein argue, most states have woefully inadequate standards, isn’t it likely that the central bureaucracy you’re creating will gravitate to mediocrity rather than excellence? And isn’t that just what Common Core represents, given that its standards for what count as “college ready” are actually set below what you need to even apply to, much less succeed at, most colleges?

So color me confused.

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13 Responses to Confusion over National Standards

  1. Sandra Stotsky says:

    Thank you, Greg, for your clear-thinking comment on the Bush/Klein op-ed. If this completely inaccurate piece of propaganda, ostensibly making a case for national standards but in fact trying indirectly to prop up Common Core’s standards, is the first outside op-ed that the WSJ has seen fit to publish on the topic in the past two years, it certainly doesn’t say much for the alertness of the entire editorial board at the WSJ. Sandra Stotsky

  2. MOMwithAbrain says:

    Your first mistake, admiring Bush and Klein.

  3. [...] Bush and Klein make the case against common standards, contends Greg Forster on Jay Greene’s blog. They argue that states, not the federal government, should set education policy. But the feds have pushed states to adopt Common Core Standards by threatening loss of Title I funds; the testing consortia are federally funded. [...]

  4. concerned says:

    …isn’t it likely that the central bureaucracy you’re creating will gravitate to mediocrity rather than excellence?

    YES!!

    http://concernedabouteducation.posterous.com/tx-considers-common-core

    http://coehp.uark.edu/colleague/9862.php

    The House Education and Workforce Committee is ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!!
    http://tinyurl.com/6ga92k2

  5. [...] Confusion over National Standards « Jay P. Greene’s Blog. Tags: Greg Forster, Jeb Bush, Joel Klein, learning environment, student achievement, [...]

  6. Jenni White says:

    Jeb Bush is a product of the “Bush” family group-think. His father signed on to Agenda 21 with the UN, signing away American liberty in the process.

    He also signed the World Declaration on Education for All (from the UN “World Conference on Education for All”) which continued the ideas for universal pre-k, longitudinal databases from which to collect any and all information possible from unsuspecting students and outcome-based education disguised as ‘standards based reform’ (straight from John Dewey’s doctrines).

    Of course GW Bush then renamed Clinton’s Goals 2000 (that year’s ESEA reauthorization) No Child Left Behind while changing nary a word in the process, moving forward Clinton’s tragic AYP idea so that ‘teaching to the test to get money from the feds’ moved into overdrive while leaving nearly EVERY child behind.

    Why exactly would we ‘admire’ either Democrats or Republicans who simply re-package the education reforms of Dewey and LBJ, ‘re-gifting’ them to the American people as if they had ever worked any where in the world before?

  7. Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

    Joel Klein is the new education czar (CEO of the educational division) for News Corp, the parent company of WSJ. Those who have the media in their hands and foundation/government money behind them, plus other like-minded contacts in high places, exert an incredible amount of influence over education policy and funding. The WSJ op-ed by Bush & Klein made no case whatsoever to the rational person, as circular logic built on false premises is a conduit to deception. Ayn Marie Samuelson

  8. [...] Confusion over National Standards Greg Forster  June 24, 2011   Jay P. Greene’s Blog Share this: This entry was posted in CCSSI Influence Forces, Common Core State Standards, Fderalized Education. Bookmark the permalink. ← Rick Perry Highlights Federal Education Takeover in Beck Interview [...]

  9. Sandra says:

    According to Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp and the new educational division, said that education in the U.S. is a $5 billion sector. The question is who benefits from the Common Core initiatives. The op-ed, its content and placement, gives insight to the answer.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/news-corp-buys-education-technology-company-wireless-generation-for-360-million-2010-11#ixzz1P0Q5A3Hb

  10. [...] June 24, 2011             CONFUSION OVER NATIONAL STANDARDS “If, as Bush and Klein argue, most states have woefully inadequate standards, isn’t it likely that the central bureaucracy you’re creating will gravitate to mediocrity rather than excellence? And isn’t that just what Common Core represents, given that its standards for what count as “college ready” are actually set below what you need to even apply to, much less succeed at, most colleges?” >>read more>> [...]

  11. [...] sources here, here, here, here, here and [...]

  12. Confusion says:

    […] Image Credit: Jay P. Greene […]

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