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Petrilli’s Common Core “North Star” for Atheistic, “Choice” Moms

February 17, 2015

Fordham Institute President Michael Petrilli sells the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for a living.

Petrilli has a bachelors degree in political science. He is not a teacher. He is a guy who landed on the soft fluffery of a think tank living.

He has testified in CCSS’ favor before lawmakers in TennesseeWisconsinOhioIndianaMissouri, and Arkansas.

His Fordham Institute associate, Kathleen Porter-Magee, testified in their favor in Wisconsin, and Fordham Institute founder Chester Finn has testified in their favor in Michigan.

Fordham Institute even has a webpage, Common Core Watch, which might be more accurately named, Common Core Defense and Promotion.

The bottom line for Fordham Institute is that it views itself as standards-grading experts. In their formal testimony in favor of CCSS, their “evidence” centers on their own skewed standards-grading “findings.” And even there, Fordham Institute did not “grade” CCSS as superior to all state standards. Nevertheless, Fordham Institute adamantly sells CCSS as though CCSS has been empirically tested and proven to deliver on some miracle promise of American Global Competitiveness brought about by nothing more than “standards sameness”– or, as Fordham Institute gravy train Bill Gates pushes, the “unleashing” of “powerful market forces” to produce “an large base of customers eager to buy products.”

Petrilli’s testimony in Indiana is particularly telling. I have cited it before.

In true Fordham Institute form, Petrilli urges Indiana to keep CCSS– even though Fordham Institute did not “grade” CCSS as “superior” to Indiana state standards:

First, you have already invested time and money into implementing the new standards. They have momentum. Calling for a do-over would waste the millions of man hours already invested — and potentially cost the state of Indiana more money than proceeding with the Common Core.

Second, it’s not clear that returning to your old standards would put Indiana on a path toward higher student achievement. For while you had some of the best standards in the country for over a decade, you also had one of the worst student achievement records on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Indiana was a classic case of good standards not actually having an impact in the classroom. You need a different way forward.

Third, if you decide to opt out of the Common Core, you will be opting Indiana’s teachers and students out of an opportunity to participate in the incredible wave of innovation that these standards are unleashing. It’s as if the whole world is moving to smart phones and tablets while you’re sticking with a rotary. [Emphasis added.]

Sure, says Petrilli, Indiana had great standards, “some of the best in the country,” but they did not yield the *desired testing outcomes.* So, what is needed is not *empirically-tested CCSS,* because that does not exist. What is needed, says Petrilli, is something “different.” And CCSS “different”– though not empirically tested, Petrilli states, is “the smart phone.”

Yet according to Petrilli, Indiana already had its own “smart phone,” and because he is peddling a “different” brand of smart phone, he must downplay the fact that his own institute graded Indiana’s state English language arts (ELA) standards as “clearly superior” to CCSS and Indiana’s state math standards as “too close to call” to CCSS.

“Clearly superior” and “too close to call” is not “rotary phone,” folks. But Petrilli has a sale to make, and even if the smart-phone-rotary-phone metaphor does not fit, at least people will remember it as though it does.

O, there’s trouble in River City, folks, and that starts with T that rhymes with P that stands for “pool.”

Yes, Petrilli will talk himself into a circle just to sell his CCSS product, but sometimes, that circle becomes a corner.

On February 15, 2015, Petrilli wrote a post in which he decided to criticize a group whose November 2013 criticism revealed the lengths to which US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would go in order to defend CCSS:

White suburban moms whose children aren’t “as brilliant as they (the moms) thought they were.”

Yep. In his non-career-teacher, think-tanky wisdom, Petrilli takes on the *white suburban moms.*

Several tiered and frosted levels of dumb.

Here he goes:

My own sense from watching this (CCSS) debate play out is that most of the “white suburban moms” who oppose Common Core also share a romantic, progressive view of education that is at odds with traditional schooling in general. We will never convince them of Common Core’s value, nor should we expect to. …

This (Petrilli’s) conclusion is informed by a groundbreaking study we at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute published in 2013, What Parents Want: Education Preferences and Trade-Offs.  … But our study also uncovered a handful of parent niches—six of them to be precise. And one of them—the “expressionists”—sounds an awful lot like the white suburban moms who have been making most of the noise.

These (CCSS resistant ?) parents are more likely than the general population to be liberal; less likely to be Christian; more likely to be atheist; and more likely to send their child to a charter school. Perhaps most importantly for Common Core politics, they are a very small minority, representing just 15 percent of all parents.

Petrilli takes liberty with connecting Fordham Institute’s 2013 “groundbreaking study” to CCSS when the study was actually about school choice. He decided that what respondents want in a school is what he holds in his own mind as CCSS.

You read that right.

Petrilli does not mention that this group of individuals also “ranked highly: ‘Emphasizes arts and music instruction,’” which is certainly not CCSS.

Based on Petrilli’s very generous interpretation of his 2013 study, those nonbeliever, “choice” mothers who are “choosing” (according to Petrilli) to be vocal against CCSS “are a very small minority.”

Right. Combating the displeasure of these mothers (and fathers) has Petrilli and his like traveling the country formally testifying that states should be “led” to keep “state led” CCSS that Fordham Institute has not even graded as “clearly superior” to all state standards.

It couldn’t be because of the Gates gravy train.

Like Petrilli is just going to let those parents walk away from the Fantastic, Gates-funded Opportunity to Unleash Powerful Market Forces. No way.

All roads lead back to Rome CCSS:

Its (the 2013 study’s) major finding was that most parents actually want pretty much the same things from their schools: a solid core curriculum in reading and math, an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and the development in students of good study habits, strong critical thinking skills, and excellent verbal and written communication skills. That list matches up pretty darn well with the Common Core. Hence, schools that follow the Common Core North Star will meet most parents’ desires quite well. One size fits most[Emphasis added.]

Even though that irritating 15-percent of “moms” doesn’t want CCSS, according to Petrilli, they really do want CCSS. How does he know?

He. Just. Does.

Talk about “romantic.”

And it is okay if CCSS doesn’t “fit all.” Sure, the CCSS website guarantees that CCSS Will Fit All:

The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. [Emphasis added.]

However, Petrilli can slightly forsake his CCSS romance in favor of CCSS’ fitting “most” because he plans to bring these dissident “moms” back to the You Really Do Want CCSS *truth.*

Get with it, you white, atheistic, “choice” moms (and dads)! CCSS is The Gates-funded, Fordham-Institute-endorsed North Star!

The empirical research backing for his think-tank-tunnel conclusions for North Star CCSS?


Petrilli simply “pretty darn” declares it To Be So.

Image result for north star


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Your posts are amazing.

    This is wonderful, among other brilliant summaries of the absurdities in ed reform.

    “Several tiered and frosted levels of dumb.” Don’t know how you come up with such great lines. Next fabluous career in stand-up comedy…or that legal degree.

  2. Sahila permalink

    I have had some ‘discussions’ online with Michael Petrilli and he makes NO SENSE whatsoever… so far removed from the reality of life for most people that it’s worrisome… and he’s a patriarchal, sexist, misogynist, blaming poverty on women having too many babies without having a ‘good man’ to support them and their children…

  3. Use For CC permalink

    Well done:) -suburban white mom


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