Five Answers for Mike Petrilli, Technocratic Progressive

Cheating

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Yesterday I highlighted Rick Hess’ five “half-truths” (really non-truths) of CC advocates. Now, Mike Petrilli has five questions for Rick. I don’t know how Rick would answer, but here’s how I would – consider it a cheat sheet on the nature of technocratic progressivism.

1) You dispute that the Common Core standards are “evidenced based” because “what the Common Core’s authors did falls well short of what ‘evidence-based’ typically means.” By your definition, would any set of standards be considered evidence-based? Such as those previously in place in the states? Or any set of education standards one might develop in the future? (Or, for that matter, in myriad other fields?) If no, then what’s your point? Do you think we should abandon standards-based reform?

No, no set of standards can be evidence based, because we don’t have anything like the level of evidence we would need for that designation to be meaningful. We need at least a generation of robust school choice and educational entrepreneurship before we will have the slightest idea “what works.” Technocratic progressivism always starts from the pretense that we know more than we really do.

2) Relatedly, would you consider elements of the Common Core to be evidence-based? Such as their focus on scientifically-based reading instruction in the early grades, or the demand for fluency in arithmetic, or the admonition to delay calculator use? Would you disagree that those decisions were based on evidence? Do you think states should go back to standards that don’t include these evidence-based expectations?

Designating these policy decisions – for that is what they are – as “evidence based” suggests that they are the One Best Way for all students, and disagreement is illegitimate. The next step for technocratic progressivism, after pretending that we know more than we really do, is to take policy decisions that involve the exercise of a wide-ranging human judgment, upon which wise and well-informed people might therefore be expected to disagree, and reframe them as mere technical questions that have one objectively right answer.

3) You complain that the Common Core standards don’t include calculus. Do you think states should expect all students to learn calculus? If not, where would you set the bar for “college and career ready”?

This question reveals the fundamental bankruptcy of the whole CC enterprise. It requires a single authority to take control of the content of education for all students at a detailed level. Who died and put Rick Hess in charge of when my daughter should learn calculus? And who says the right answer is the same for all students? Technocratic progressivism, having presented policy questions requiring complex human judgment as technical issues that have a single right answer to be determined straightforwardly by evidence, delivers unlimited power to an elite class of politicians posing as scientists.

4) You say that it’s hard to judge the “rigor” of standards. OK. So do you think other standards are more rigorous than the Common Core? Ohio, for example, is having a debate about whether it should repeal the Common Core and deploy the old Massachusetts standards instead. Do you think the old Massachusetts standards were more rigorous than the Common Core? Or is it impossible to know?

I had thought everyone paying attention to the discussion was aware by now that the old Massachusetts standards were more rigorous than CC, but if Mike wants to remind us of this unflattering comparison, who am I to stop him? It is especially helpful because the overthrow of superior standards in Massachusetts demonstrates that CC is not only a floor but also a ceiling (as all “floors” must be by their very nature). Technocratic progressivism, by putting all power in the hands of politicians posing as scientists, undermines the functioning of the very systems it intends to improve.

5) You call us at the Fordham Institute “avidly pro-Common Core.” Do you think it’s possible that we are “avidly pro-Common Core” precisely because we think the standards are so strong? We also support the concept of national standards for science, but we’re not “avidly pro-Next Generation Science Standards.” We’ve recommended that states not adopt those standards because they are mediocre. How would you explain that position?

It’s strange that the observation that Fordham is “avidly pro-Common Core” should set off this defensive and oversensitive reaction. That Fordham is avidly pro-Common Core is obvious to all. Just look at their snide and juvenile piece on Bobby Jindal. And everyone knows Fordham is avidly pro-Common Core because they believe the CC standards are strong; Rick wasn’t suggesting otherwise. Why does Mike feel the need to snap back when people point out that he and his organization are for what they are for? Here we see the first stage of the final development of technocratic progressivism. The first stage (seen here) is guilty conscience. At future stages, the conscience will no longer feel guilty, having become accustomed to living in a false reality and being surrounded by the kind of unscrupulous people power attracts. That is when the really nasty stuff begins to happen.

If you want to move from the crib sheet to the Cliff’s Notes, start here. The primary source text can be found here.

Update: Mike writes in: “I think you missed my point on the Fordham Institute, though it was subtle. I thought Rick implied (unintentionally, as it turns out) that we gave the Common Core high marks because we were avidly pro Common Core. In fact, the reason we are so supportive of the effort is because the standards turned out so well. We would certainly never dispute that we are “avidly pro-Common Core.” We are, and proudly so!”

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12 Responses to Five Answers for Mike Petrilli, Technocratic Progressive

  1. pdexiii says:

    If I could I would ask Mr. Petrilli if he thinks the Common Core Math standards are better than the California Frameworks we had previously, and (as I do my students) to ‘justify his response.’
    From my classroom view the challenges California had (and still has) are pedagogy-instruction, as well as leadership. Saying the Frameworks were bad because students weren’t performing is a weak correlation at best. I am convinced California dumped their Frameworks for Common Core so as to get a spot at the gubb’ment $$ trough.
    This is my 2nd year teaching to the CC standards (8th grade), and for middle school CC looks more like what I learned in 8th grade back in my Parochial school in DC ‘back in the day’ (70’s). Does CC look weak to me after Algebra 1? Yes. Do the horror stories about the elementary standards scare me? Yes. Do I like the 8th grade standards? Hat trick on the ‘yeses’. This says that schools should have as much choice as possible of the standards they choose to teach, along with the freedom to implement the pedagogy they know will instruct the standards best.
    If the next few years my 8th graders come back and visit saying, “Mr. Ford, 9th grade is hard; I wasn’t ready for that,” Then I’ve got to do my best Peyton Manning by screaming ‘OMAHA!’ and try something else.

    • CC Prof says:

      I’m just finding out what the CC standards are after Algebra I, and I don’t like it all. My high school in student in North Carolina just started Math II, which is next course after Math I (the old Algebra I). I don’t like how this course is going to jump from algebra to geometry to probability and even to trigonometry. It’s all over the place. I doubt that most of the students will have the time to practice enough problems to master any of this material.

  2. Jimmy Kilpatrick says:

    Mike has lost is mind…I guess all the cash lining is pockets from Gates has warped his sense of responsibility. Checker Finn jumped ship to try and salvage his name from this disaster.

  3. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  4. […] Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  5. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  6. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  7. […] Rick Hess recently wrote about Com­mon Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster point­edly demon­strated he should have called “lies.” These include talk­ing points essen­tial to sell­ing gov­er­nors and other state lead­ers […]

  8. […] Rick Hess recently wrote about Com­mon Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster point­edly demon­strated he should have called “lies.” These include talk­ing points essen­tial to sell­ing gov­er­nors and other state lead­ers […]

  9. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  10. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

  11. […] Institute’s Rick Hess recently wrote about Common Core’s “half-truths,” which Greg Forster pointedly demonstrated he should have called “lies.” These include talking points essential to selling governors and other state leaders on the […]

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