Skip to content

EdNext’s Paul Peterson: Common Core Got the Bum Rap– Just Like Poor NCLB Did

August 25, 2014

Education Next is a journal that strongly promotes the privatization of public education based upon standardized-test-driven outcomes. The folks at EdNext really love charters and vouchers that drain *authentic* public schools of their funding all the while escaping the “accountability” so-called “reform” demands of those flunky, traditional public schools.

The EdNext editor-in-chief is Paul Peterson. He happens to be fond of charters, vouchers, and parent trigger laws.

In April 2014, Peterson and two others published a book entitled Teachers Versus the Public. That ought to tell you something about Peterson’s opinion of career classroom teachers.

Education destruction vixen-gone- manure handler Michelle Rhee endorsed Peterson’s book.

Enough said.

Ironically, it seems that the “public” has spoken: Peterson’s book is a dud.

That doesn’t mean he is finished pushing his privatizating, “blame the traditional teachers” message via his EdNext survey, which was begun in 2007– the year that George W. Bush’s “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014” No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was floundering in its reauthorization, a loaded issue that had run right smack into an election year.

That’s right: For the past eight years, EdNext has been administering its own public opinion survey on education issues that tend to originate with so-called “think tanks,” education-affiliated nonprofits, and the federal government– not with parents or teachers, and not from local communities.

Now, EdNext loves vouchers, charters, triggers, and grading teachers and schools using student standardized test scores. However, when it comes to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the EdNext board runs the gamut, ranging from strong supporters, to the lukewarm, to those decidedly opposed.

EdNext editor-in-chief Peterson happens to be one who is fond of CCSS.

Since the 2014 version of the EdNext survey was published, Peterson has begun taking the opportunity to plug for CCSS– which, like test-driven NCLB, is stalling as an election year approaches.

Even CCSS part owner, the National Governors Association (NGA) has gone cool on pushing CCSS. And wouldn’t you know, Terry Holliday, the current president of the other CCSS co-owner, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), is rethinking this whole “common” standards idea for his state.

But Peterson maintains that CCSS is getting the bum rap– that CCSS resistance is resistance only to the CCSS name:

In the just-released 2014 Ednext survey of a nationally representative sample of the general public, no less than 68% of the public registers support for the following (if the material in brackets is deleted):

[Common Core] standards for reading and math that are the same across the states. In the states that have these standards, they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance.

Only 16% express opposition, the remainder saying they “neither support nor oppose the standards.” The level of public support remains essentially unchanged from its level in 2012.

Yet the simple addition of the bracketed phrase “Common Core” induces a drop in the level of public support from 68% to 53% and opposition rises from 16% to 26%. The Common Core label now has a toxic impact on public thinking.

Peterson laments that CCSS has fallen victim to “borking”– “opponents orchestrat[ing] a blazing, misleading campaign that introduced the country to negative campaigning on a massive scale.”

Sure– that could be it, Paul–

or— the half of 2014 EdNext survey respondents who are aware of CCSS simply don’t want it because they don’t like the effect of “test-driven tourniquet reform” upon their children and their schools.

I know– it seems so illogical to one so far removed from the CCSS-impacted classroom.

It must be something else, eh? Eh?

Peterson alludes to the 2007 EdNext survey in which respondents were asked a similar set of questions concerning NCLB. The result modeled that of the 2014 survey concerning CCSS: omit the term “NCLB” from the question; get greater support.

In his clouded view, Peterson concludes:

Even though student achievement increased after the passage of NCLB, the law was demonized for not having fulfilled its utopian objective of bringing all students up to a level of full proficiency. [Emphasis added.]

For Peterson to maintain that the increasing public rejection of both NCLB and CCSS as captured in the 2007 and 2014  EdNext surveys, respectively, is nothing more than a name change is mere speculation. In neither survey does EdNext bother to include questions in which it asks respondents to explain their reasons for supporting or rejecting NCLB or CCSS.

I mean, if you really wanted to understand the public’s position on the matter, wouldn’t you want to include such questions in your survey?

As former Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education during George W. Bush’s first term Susan Neuman reflects in a 2008 TIME interview:

Neuman …regrets the Administration’s use of humiliation and shame as a lever for school reform. Failure to meet NCLB’s inflexible goals meant schools would be publicly labeled as failures. Neuman now sees this as a mistake: “Vilifying teachers and saying we are going to shame them was not the right approach.”

The combination of inflexibility and public humiliation for those not meeting federal goals ignited so much frustration among educators that NCLB now appears to be an irreparably damaged brand. [Emphasis added.]

Peterson offers no commentary on the effects of “school vilification” on the public’s perceptions of NCLB. To him, public rejection of NCLB yielded NCLB as the undeserving fall guy “demonized by political opposition.”

And what of those marvelous NCLB test score gains?

It seems that the increased financial cost of NCLB rendered its modest test score gains a diminishing return by comparison.

Peterson states that under NCLB “student achievement improved”– but he doesn’t offer a detailed accounting of what was lost in the process.

How about joy of learning? What effect did NCLB have on that?

Joy of learning is a non-issue in both the 2007 and 2014 EdNext surveys. That which is not easily measured is ignored. I learned this from reading Peterson’s EdNext and Hoover Institute pal Eric Hanushek’s 1968 dissertation.

If it cannot be measured, ignore its influence and instead accord unbalanced influence to other captive factors– such as the impact of the teacher upon student test scores.

It’s all about the test scores.

Speaking of which: What of the ridiculous NCLB goal of “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014”?

In his 2014 “CCSS is getting a raw deal” lament, Peterson excuses NCLB for its “utopian” goal. However, states are still being held hostage by supposed NCLB “waivers” to escape Utopia– and our basketball-playing US secretary of education can dribble, pass, and free-throw those waivers according to his whims.

Yep. NCLB was a real winner, and with each passing day that American politicians allow it to flounder as un-reauthorized, America is missing out, fer shure.

Looks like CCSS will be another cog soon to jam in the “education reform by vilification” wheel.

Let us remove our hats and offer a moment of silence.

Think-tanky survey imaging aside, it seems that the fate of CCSS in 2014 is similar to the fate of NCLB in 2007:

Both were peddled as “utopian,” but enough time had passed for enough of the public to realize it had been sold a destructive, punitive nonsense– and the politicians doing the selling had begun to scramble to regain public trust as a major election year approached.

Some “mindful of the polls” try to distance themselves from the floundering, top-down-reform issue without declaring a position. Others come out full-blast against, broadcasting that some other entity had not delivered on the promised outcome.

Different approaches, same career-advancing motive.

The influence of self-serving, political career advancement upon the proliferation of public education scapegoating “reform”–

I wonder when EdNext will conduct a survey on that?


lying politician


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


From → Common Core

  1. What is this “Education’s Next Horizon” outfit that is now appearing on the horizon? Sounds reformy and CCSS-loving…

  2. Derek permalink

    Mercedes, please consider posting something about psychological testing as it relates to CCSS it could be very eye opening for your blog followers?

  3. Fordham’s arch-reactionary Mike Petrilli is also big on the “people love the core, just not name” schtick, and calls for a “rebranding.” That will be their next move, no?

  4. NCLB (neo-cons), Race to the Top and CCSS (neo-liberals) may be from different political factions than the corporations who manufactured a fake crises in public education to push the profit-based privitization of eduction in the United States, but political factions complement the goals of the corporate carpetbaggers causing these factions to end up supporting each other in an uneasy alliance for some.

    NCLB + Race to the Top + CCS + test based accountability for teachers also used to rank and yank public schools leads to corporate controlled, private sector, for profit, opaque Charter schools.

    What was needed by the corporate carpetbaggers was an easy way to label teachers and schools as FAILURES. To them, it doesn’t matter that the test-based accountability is NOT valid. Once in place, it offers them legislated, justification to achieve their goals—similar to throwing someone in prison for years just because they had a few ounces of marijuana on them. All they need is the legislation to support what they are doing.

    America has had unjust laws before and still has some on the books.

    Two come to mind:

    The Chinese Exclusion Act

    I’m sure there is more that could be added to this list.

    The question we don’t have an answer to yet is if the U.S. will make a course correction and move away from this insanity that only benefits a few among the top one percent and hurts many from the working class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s