Those State-level Common Core “Reviews”: Useful for Fashioning “Public Support”
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Louisiana and elsewhere are now “under review.”
This seems that the new in-thing to do in CCSS states. According to Politico’s Morning Education on July 31, 2015, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Idaho, New Jersey, and Kentucky are all conducting (or preparing to conduct) a CCSS “review.”
Politico notes that halfway through the CCSS review in Mississippi, “more than 90 percent of commenters have said they approve of the standards.”
Politico did not mention that the CCSS-supporting Mississippi state superintendent, Carey Wright, dropped this fear-bomb on the Mississippi public in May 2015:
Mississippi totally ditching Common Core standards this late in the game “would set us back monumentally,” Wright said, and bring the very federal intervention in state education that Common Core opponents fear. Wright said the state runs the risk of losing its federal No Child Left Behind waiver if it doesn’t have approved standards, and this would bring dire sanctions including “significant federal involvement.” She said at least 74 schools in 51 districts would face reorganization, state takeover or other actions immediately. Throwing out Common Core standards, she said, “would place the state’s education system in turmoil.”
Throw out CCSS in Mississippi, and bogeyman US secretary of education Arne Duncan will take over Mississippi schools as a condition of waivers associated with defunct No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Gotta keep CCSS or the feds will come after us.
Skip to July 2015, when both House and Senate passed versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to put to rest NCLB– and its federal-strong-arming “waivers”– with both House and Senate versions explicitly declaring federal mandating of CCSS as prohibited. In September 2015, House and Senate will come together in a conference committee to craft one ESEA reauth out of the two versions. The resulting single ESEA bill will go before both House and Senate.
Back to the CCSS “reviews.” There’s Kentucky and its CCSS “review” result:
Politico notes that the Kentucky public CCSS review produced the finding, “a vast majority of those who participated said they supported the standards and didn’t need changing.”
It turns out that the Kentucky review allowed for no blanket dismissal of CCSS, and the only comments that were allowed had to refer to specific standards. (Here is a Kentucky Dept of Ed article on the issue.)
The requirement that comments opposing CCSS must link to specific standards is ingenious for generating (and marketing) “public support” for CCSS (which is what Kentucky Dept of Ed does). Such a condition effectively cuts off evidence of any general public disagreement. If one cannot link one’s discontent with CCSS to specific standards, one gets no convenient voice on the issue. And if that person tries to register general discontent by confronting the requirement to comment on specific standards, that person better be prepared to sit at her or his computer for hours to attempt it.
Louisiana’s public comment portal is set up similarly.
In requiring those concerned about the ueber-standardization of their state education systems to only have their concerns validated if they can link their concerns to specific standards. I first wrote about this ploy in January 2014 in response to former National Education Association (NEA) president Dennis Van Roekel’s referring to CCSS as “our best guess at what students need to know” and his bragging that no one could answer when he asked, “Are there specific things you believe should not be there?”
Van Roekel said that he “never got an answer” when he asked people that. He was apparently pleased to have cornered them regarding their concerns about the CCSS “best guess.”
In my post, I did answer him. But I also know that the standards should create a whole and should be viewed as a whole– and that the public has a right to be concerned about that “whole” when it is accorded a privileged position in comparison to former state standards.
Here is some background on Louisiana’s faith-based “adoption” of CCSS: In May 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and then-State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to commit Louisiana to be “state led” and participate in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, a show that the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) had actually “initiated.”
On June 02, 2010, CCSS was officially completed and released to the public. However, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) still needed to officially vote to replace Louisiana’s state English and math standards with CCSS.
Just under one month later, on July 01, 2010, BESE recorded in its minutes that it had adopted CCSS.
Thus, CCSS was officially adopted by BESE without any time to review the product, much less allow the Louisiana public to comment on this decision, and no intention to review the Louisiana state standards that CCSS replaced.
There is one more issue I would like to mention about those Louisiana state standards that CCSS deposed.
Here is a statement from Louisiana Title 28, Part LXIII, “Bulletin 1965– Louisiana Content Standards, Benchmarks, and Grade Expectations for English language Arts”:
The Louisiana English Language Arts Content Standards listed below should be considered as a whole and not as isolated components of instruction. (page 2)
It makes sense to consider standards as a whole.
The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) should have made some provision in their standards review “portal” for the public to comment on their concerns about CCSS ELA and math as a whole.
Furthermore, in its public comment “portal,” LDOE should have also allowed the public the option to choose to return to the Louisiana state standards that it denied any say in exiting for CCSS.
Instead, what LDOE did was make it easiest to choose to retain CCSS. No commenting required for that option alone. Just check a box for each standard.
No reason is needed for keeping CCSS. But if you want to register concerns about CCSS, you better figure out how to get your comments in by somehow tying them to specific standards.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading about the *amazing public support* for CCSS in Louisiana as a result.
All is fair in effective CCSS marketing.