Checker Finn may say he’s paranoid, but Neal McCluskey really seems to be thinking straight when it comes to national standards. The issue isn’t whether the currently proposed national standards are good (and it is likely that they are better than those in some states and worse than those in others). The issue is who will control the national standards system in the future, once it is built.
Fordham is aware of the problem and promises that they are working on a foolproof way to keep the “good guys” in control forever, but you might think that would be something they would have all worked out BEFORE they build the national standards system. And as Murphy’s law says: “Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.”
Building a national standards machine before you know how to control it is like every sci-fi story where the scientists build the robots before working out a plan for how to handle the robots when they go haywire. Don’t these folks know the Elementary Chaos Theory?
Here’s Neal’s money quote:
let’s stop focusing on whether the Common Core standards right now are good, bad, or indifferent, and talk about their future prospects, which is what really matters. Oh, wait: Most national standardizers avoid that discussion like the plague because they know that the overwhelming odds are the standards will end up either dismal, or at best just unenforced. Why? Because the same political forces that have smushed centralized standards and accountability in almost every state — the teacher unions, administrator associations, self-serving politicians, etc. — will just do their dirty work at the federal rather than state level. Indeed, those groups will still be the most motivated and effectively organized to control education politics, but they will have the added benefit of one-stop shopping!
The tragic flaw in the thinking of many national-standards supporters is not the desire to create high bars for students to clear, but the utter delusion, or maybe just myopia, that allows them to assume that they will control the standards in a monopoly over which, by its very nature, they almost never hold the reins.