To Education Post’s Peter Cunningham on His Common-Core-Promotion Effort
Peter Cunningham is in charge of what blogger Anthony Cody terms, “education’s only multi-million-dollar blog,” Education Post. In an interview with another blogger, corporate-reform bee charmer Jennifer Berkshire (“EduShyster”), Cunningham divulges the privatizing-reform origins of Education Post:
When I was asked to create this organization—it wasn’t my idea; I was initially approached by Broad—it was specifically because a lot of reform leaders felt like they were being piled on and that no one would come to their defense. They said somebody just needs to help right the ship here. There was a broad feeling that the anti-reform community was very effective at piling on and that no one was organizing that on our side. There was unequivocally a call to create a community of voices that would rise to the defense of people pushing reform who felt like they were isolated and alone.
Twelve million Broad,Bloomberg, and Walton* Foundation dollars later, we have Cunningham doing as he was asked by billionaire Eli Broad. We have the pro-privatizing-reform blog haven, Education Post, a place for “a different conversation about public education.”
A $12 million blog surely is “different.” As for the “conversation”– well– that’s become all-too-predictable.
On May 20, 2015, I read a piece on Cunningham’s amply-funded Education Post about a Louisiana third-grade teacher, Meredith Starks, who is “clinging to” the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and is “terrified that they will be taken away.”
Regarding her teaching capabilities with her students, Starks maintains that CCSS is what enables her “to push them further, to question them deeper, and to support them more than ever before.” She simply cannot teach well without CCSS.
Those are some powerful standards.
Starks continues her CCSS defense by stating that CCSS will even be able to move Louisiana up in some nebulously-defined rankings if only they are implemented properly:
I advocate so our politicians know that our state can make this transition, but we need more time, and so they don’t vote to take us back ten years to standards that had Louisiana ranked 49th out of 50 states.
Louisiana was “ranked 49th out of 50 states” in something, and it was the fault of Louisiana’s state standards. Thank goodness CCSS is here to raise every state that adopts them in any and all undefined rankings.
Powerful standards, indeed.
But what happens if the 40-plus states that have adopted CCSS don’t all defy the characteristics of rankings by all rising in the rankings? Or, will CCSS do away with the need for rankings when all states that adopted them amazingly tie for first place?
And if those states don’t all astoundingly tie for first place in the whatever-rankings, will the convenient reason be “poor implementation”?
If only we had information from a field test to help inform us of the strengths and weaknesses of CCSS-in-practice. But we don’t. There was no testing of CCSS, just adoption and concurrently declaring that CCSS would work.
And here is Cunningham using Stark’s story on a pro-corporate-reform-funded blog to sell CCSS. The shame is that Ed Post’s Cunningham had to borrow this pro-CCSS story from another corporate-reform-funded group, Stand for Children, and recycle it on his blog.
Are there not two Louisiana third-grade teachers who could have written pro-CCSS posts that would have been original to both Stand for Children and Ed Post?
Better yet– and I know this might require some effort, but it’s not like Cunningham has another full time job to interfere with the task– Ed Post should pound the US pavement for a pro-CCSS teacher for each grade, kindergarten through 12, in both English language arts (ELA) and math, and have each teacher write a pro-CCSS blog post.
Now, with all of those Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton Foundation millions available, Cunningham might be tempted to offer any solicited pro-CCSS teachers a token slice of the walton-Broad Foundation pie for their pro-CCSS post-writing efforts. But don’t do it. It just looks bad, even if those teachers insist that their CCSS devotion is separate from a gift, a stipend, or– in the case of Starks– “contracts posted on social media.” It’s like a parent paying a kid to be friends with his kid– and the “friend” insisting he would have been friends anyway– but still pocketing the money.
I write against CCSS on my blog for free, and no one has any leverage in connecting my position with plump, so-called “reform” financing. I suggest that this K-12, ELA-and-math, pro-CCSS series of Ed Post blog entries be written by teachers in no way connected to any such funding.
After Ed Post produces such a series, we can continue with our “conversation” on the matter.
Meanwhile, my non-Broad-enticed, non-Walton-Bloomberg-Broad-funded book on the history, development, and promotion of CCSS, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, will be published by Teachers College Press on June 12, 2015.
*Eariler verison had Arnold Foundation as the Ed Post funder. This was an error. The Broad, Bloomberg, and Walton Foundations appear to be the chief Ed Post backers, though there is also an anonymous donor.