Rick Hess confirms the existence of this stealth strategy, given that Education Next has been unable to get a single expert to step forward and defend the rigor of the national math standards in a forum in the magazine. Ed Next has asked six leading people and all have turned the offer down, complaining that they are too busy. Rick isn’t buying it. He writes:
I’ll be blunt: I don’t believe them. After all, the leading thinkers who have found the time to contribute to Ed Next forums have included such seemingly busy people as Richard Elmore, Kati Haycock, Diane Ravitch, Hank Levin, Andy Rotherham, Joe Williams, Rick Hanushek, Checker Finn, Jay Greene, Bruno Manno, Chris Whittle, Bryan Hassel, Eva Moskowitz, Susan Eaton, and Howard Fuller. Rather, I think the reluctance to contribute is due to hubris, impatience to focus on implementation, political naivete, and disdain for what they see as mean-spirited carping….
There are long rows of argument and persuasion still to be hoed. And, if you’re eager to overhaul what gets taught in forty-odd states serving forty million or more students, that’s probably as it should be. If Common Core-ites don’t have the patience or stomach for that task, they should let us know now–and save everyone a whole lot of grief.
The notion that Common Core proponents needn’t make their case is an affront to democratic values. When seeking to make substantial changes to public institutions, the burden is supposed to be on the would-be reformers. After winning a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, civil rights advocates spent decades making and re-making the case for school desegregation. Charter school advocates have spent two decades arguing their case. That’s normal and healthy. The “we’re really busy now” stance of the Common Core-ites is akin to the NAACP having decided in 1956 that it had done plenty to make its case, that everyone understood its arguments, and that it should just buckle down and focus on “implementation.” It’s akin to charter advocates having decided in 1993 that they’d adequately made their case and could move on….
As I’ve said many times, I’ve much sympathy for the Common Core effort, but am skeptical that it will turn out well. To have even a shot at working as intended, this requires bipartisan support from a range of state officials and buy-in or acquiescence from educators, parents, and voters. If the Common Core’s architects are done explaining its virtues–if they think that eighteen months of explaining its merits to a moderately attentive audience of self-selected elites amidst tumultuous debates over health care reform and the stimulus is sufficient–and that everyone needs to just sit down and get with the program, then I feel comfortable predicting that this whole exercise will end real poorly.