“I’m Practically a Socialist”


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Don’t miss Politico’s thoughtful profile of Common Core godfather E.D. Hirsch, who says of himself:

I’m practically a socialist.

Yes, he is. He understands what is really going on better than most.

Granted, in its current incarnation CC lacks the teeth to put any of its implicitly dictatorial ambitions into effect. But that does not change the nature of the ambitions; it only means CC advocates understand the limits of what is currently possible. If CC is allowed to silently redefine the basic meaning of all educational terms, delegitimize authentic parent choice, and establish the expectation that powerful people can lie and cheat and get away with it, more and more will become possible for them.

P.S. Don’t forget, “practically” can mean “in practice, in effect, de facto.”

One Response to “I’m Practically a Socialist”

  1. Thanks for the pointer. From the article: “Many (progressives, liberals) now support a set of grade-specific guidelines developed by the National Governors Association in 2009 known as the Common Core State Standards. Hirsch didn’t write the Common Core, but the guidelines match the expectations set forth in the rigorous public school curricula Hirsch developed with his Core Knowledge Foundation, and he is credited with laying the intellectual groundwork.

    If the current US K-12 school system generated high performance, as measured by increasing levels of literacy, numeracy, college acceptance, and vocational preparation, arguments against the structure of the system and the curriculum would have a limited audience. Any perceived performance deficit can serve as a stick with which to beat the current system. System critics who adopted Hirsch’s criticism fell into the same trap as did those who adopted Diane Ravitch’s criticism (Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms). The arrogance that Ravitch documented, where theorists played, like drunken generals, with the lives of millions of other people’s children, will make your flesh creep.

    That’s the problem. Performance matters. Ultimately, perhaps, it’s all that matters, yet Hirsch and Ravitch would prescribe new performance measures for the current system, rather than address the root of the problem: the presumption that a philosopher-king may usefully prescribe for millions of people whom s/he has never met. State-imposed “grade-specific” curriculum guidelines make as much sense as age-specific shoes. Many people will enjoy the exercise when you ask “What Math (or History, or English or Science) curriculum should all 14-year-olds receive?”. Now ask, instead, “What Math topics would you recommend my neighbor’s 14-year-old daughter study?” and the lunacy of the question becomes obvious. Obviously, the answer depends on the Individual child’s interests, abilities, and career aspirations. “What should all x-year-old children study?” makes as much sense as “what size and style of shoes should all x-year-old children wear?” Brains vary more than feet.

    Socialism is an infantile, self-congratulatory power fantasy: “What a wonderful world it would be if I ran it”.

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