Campbell Brown Plans to Explain Common Core
Campbell Brown is going to help America understand what Common Core really is.
So she says as part of her July 28, 2015, interview with Jon Ward of Yahoo! Politics:
What we want to do with Common Core is explain it. Just put honesty and truth back into the debate….
I just published a book on the history, development, and promotion of Common Core, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (TC Press, June 2015), and I have news for Campbell Brown:
Common Core did not begin in “honesty and truth,” and you cannot “put back” what was not present to begin with.
If Common Core was officially completed in June 2010, why would there be confusion in 2015 over what Common Core actually is?
Simple: Common Core is yet another top-down reform; it started years before it made its 2010 public appearance, and much of the planning and promoting that led to the June 2010 release of Common Core was chiefly orchestrated by relatively few politically-positioned individuals.
That is why there is confusion in 2015 over a Common Core that publicly emerged in 2010.
What is amusing is that Campbell Brown thinks that she and her staff of 12 will produce some pieces focused on Common Core and clear up the issue once and for all. The problem is that Common Core was politically birthed, and much of that “public confusion” is the delayed consequence of governors and state superintendents deciding that they would adopt Common Core in their states before there was even a Common Core product to examine.
In her Yahoo! interview, Brown states that she wants to “restore some of the nuance and thoughtfulness to the debate around Common Core.”
Well, here’s a nuance for Brown: At the June 2009 National Governors Association (NGA) summit, 46 states and 3 territories already signed on for a Common Core yet to be written but already declared to be connected to federally-funded consortia-produced tests.
Common Core was never intended to be separated from high-stakes testing. So, for Brown to say,
To some people, Common Core means what it actually is, which is a set of standards. … Ask other people what they think Common Core is about: It’s a test. You ask them, they will tell you it’s a test. Common Core isn’t a test, but for some people it is, because they don’t like the testing piece of it.
is an issue that I will give clarification to right here: Common Core was not created to be separated from its tests, and that tests would surely be wed to Common Core was in the plan before there was a Common Core.
When the public reacts to Common Core because of the Common Core tests meant to be an inseparable part of Common Core, the public is reacting to Common Core.
Brown also continues with commentary about the math curriculum associated with Common Core. She thinks that the public is misunderstanding Common Core because the public is reacting negatively to the math curriculum tied to Common Core. However, one of those few Common Core insiders, Phil Daro, intended for Common Core to require math to be taught differently. He intended Common Core math to drive math instruction, and it does.
The same is true for Common Core English: The preference of an individual drives the direction of any associated curriculum and pedagogy. Common Core English “lead writer” David Coleman prefers New Criticism, which treats a text a self-contained and allows no room for the reader to create meaning from the text– and no room for a text to be placed into a context. Thus, Coleman’s preference is now supposed to be every American English teacher’s preference.
Back to math:
In the Yahoo! interview, Brown focuses on Singapore math. Her “the 74” website includes an article that notes that Singapore math “aligns with the Common Core State Standards.” Brown even speaks of her child learning Singapore math. But here is a “nuance” to note: The Singapore math website states that it has textbooks in which it has aligned its Singapore math to Common Core. Thus, the original Singapore math curriculum was not exactly in line with a Common Core that came later, and Singapore math had to be reworked, at least in part.
So, what effect does this reworking have upon the quality of the Singapore math curriculum? Has anyone bothered to test the effect? No, because Common Core– English and math standards for all of grades K-12– was produced in a very short time (seven months max), and for all of the talk of basing Common Core “on research,” no time was taken to test Common Core in practice on a small scale; no enduring thought was given to rolling it out reasonably, one grade level at a time, and no effort was expended toward investigating the impact that altering curriculum like Singapore math to “fit” Common Core would have upon the quality of the curriculum.
Common Core was thrown together so fast that the fact that the Common Core math anchor standards are missing is even casually explained away on the Common Core website.
And here is another aside about Campbell Brown’s mentioning in the Yahoo! interview that her own child is learning Singapore math: Brown’s child attends the Heschel School in New York, and the Heschel School does not do Common Core. So, the Singapore math at the Heschel School is not the Common Core-arranged version and the Heschel School had the sense to transition its students into Singapore math a couple grade levels at a time, not foolishly impose upon all grades (K-5) at once.
Moreover, if Brown prefers that her child not learn Singapore math, Brown has the resources and ability to send her child to a different private school.
That is not the case with the general public who has had Common Core and its attendant driven curriculum and high-stakes tests imposed upon it by those who are fiscally and politically positioned– and whose lives are not directly impacted.
And whose kids are not directly impacted.
Lakeside School does not do Common Core.
Exeter does not do Common Core.
And then there is US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who not only forcefully cheers for Common Core but who funded the attendant consortium-developed Common Core tests. Duncan’s children attended school in Virginia– a state that did not adopt Common Core. And now that Duncan’s days in the White House are numbered, his family moved back to Chicago, where his children will attend the University of Chicago Lab School, where he attended, and where his wife taught and will resume teaching, and also where President Obama attended.
The University of Chicago Lab School does not do Common Core.
Obama’s children attend Sidwell Friends..
Sidwell Friends does not do Common Core.
So, now we can add to the list of Common Core sympathizers Campbell Brown, whose children are not exposed to Common Core and Common Core tests.
But in her Yahoo! interview, Brown does attempt to leverage her Louisiana heritage in an effort to show that Common Core is working in Louisiana:
I would use Louisiana as a great example. It’s my home state, so I’m a little closer to Louisiana than I am to other places. There’s been a big fight between Bobby Jindal, who’s running for president, and the state superintendent, John White, over Common Core implementation. I think most people would argue that John has done a pretty good job of implementing it, and that Common Core implementation has gone better in Louisiana than it has in a lot of other places. But because Jindal is running for president, it’s been a bigger issue in terms of media coverage and visibility because you have the governor screaming and yelling about it. If you look at what’s going on with teachers and parents, it’s not as much of a blowup as it has been in some other places.
Yes, Brown is from Louisiana– the small town of Ferriday. But Brown is a child of privilege, and that privilege kept her out of public school in Louisiana. (Brown attended private schools in Natchez, Mississippi, and Washington, DC.) So, there’s a disconnect. But there is a greater disconnect in Brown’s narrative of Common Core in Louisiana: In May 2015, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill to overhaul Louisiana’s standards.
If a Common Core is to be “common,” a state cannot alter it.
According to the Common Core memorandum of understanding (MOU) that governors and state superintendents signed in 2009, the Common Core owners, NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), were supposed to direct any revision effort of Common Core.
To revise on the individual state level is to not have, well, a “Common Core.”
And there is more: the Louisiana legislature restricted the proportion of PARCC test items to just under half of any state test. Such a restriction dulls the likelihood that standards revisions will be somehow forced to fit a PARCC test, which is intended to be a Common Core test.
And yes, Jindal has been “running for president” for years, and his break with Common Core could certainly be attributed to his political ambitions. But before that, in May 2009, Jindal blindly signed Louisiana’s entire state education system up for Common Core and its assessments (which were noted as part of the Common Core package in the Common Core MOU).
I suppose that particular Jindal decision was okay since it was pro-Common Core.
I return to school on August 04, 2015, and on August 05, 2015, our entire school faculty will be participating in the freshly-legislated standards review.
Contrast that to five years ago: In 2010, our faculty was told there was a Common Core coming; that it was not yet finished, but that the entire state would be using it, and that it would have assessments to accompany it; that the assessments would be harder, but that they were not yet developed.
There’s another nuance for you, Campbell. In 2010, no intentionally sought, well publicized, stakeholder involvement. Top-down.
Let me offer one final nuance about which Brown might not be so keen but which I find comical:
Brown, who publicly opposes unions, is on the same side as both national teachers unions in her support of Common Core.
Brown plans to explain Common Core using flash cards on her “”the 74” website.
Perhaps she might borrow some Common Core support materials from the unions.
I dunno, though. For me, explaining Common Core was a job way beyond flash cards.
In my case, it took writing a book that has 31 pages of reference citations as well as a five-page glossary of terms.