What the pro-Jeb Bush, pro-Common Core Washington Post Editorial Board Would Not Print
On August 17, 2015, the editorial board of the Washington Post published an opinion piece in which it asserts that Common Core and high-stakes testing are just fine and how pro-Common Core, Republican presidential would-be Jeb! Bush has been put in a terrible position to no longer express his support for Common Core by name due to “inflammatory rhetoric” that has “poisoned” the good, Common Core name.
On August 19, 2015, I submitted an op-ed in response, and on August 20, 2015, my submission was forwarded to Letters to the Editor, where it conveniently and conspicuously died.
That is how life in the political world goes.
Below is the content of my submission. I had to keep it to 800 words, but it is still packs a punch:
On August 17, 2015, the Washington Post editorial board published an op-ed entitled, “The Right and Left Poison Common Core with Inflammatory Rhetoric.”
The WashPost piece is a lament of Jeb Bush’s recent backpedaling on what he previously promised would be his unshaken support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Now all Bush will say is that he is for “higher standards, state-created, locally implemented, where the federal government has no role in the creation of standards, content or curriculum.”
Bush left out the fact that the federal government agreed to foot the bill for the CCSS-aligned, consortium-developed assessments in 2009, before there was a CCSS. Bush also omitted the fact that in 2009, the federal government advertised its upcoming Race to the Top (RTTT) competition, in which points were awarded to states that had adopted “common standards and assessments.”
Just as Bush is not using the term “Common Core,” the US Dept of Ed (USDOE) did not use it in its RTTT application criteria. On August 17, 2015, the WashPost editorial board maintained that even though Bush isn’t using the term, “Common Core,” that is what he still means by his “higher standards” spiel.
Yet it is also what USDOE meant by its euphemistic “common standards and assessments” language in its RTTT application.
As to Bush’s so-called support for “state-created” standards, before CCSS, all states had state-created standards. Yet CCSS is not a “state-created” product. It is a nonprofit-created product—with two nonprofits in charge of the CCSS process: the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
In fact, the CCSS memorandum of understanding (MOU)– was created by NGA and CCSSO. Only two signatures were required for “states” to agree to be state-led in a process that would result in “development and adoption of a common core of state standards”: the governor and the state education superintendent.
Before the standards were developed, these two individuals agreed on behalf of their entire states that adoption would follow. No inspecting the resulting final product before committing. This foolish agreement poisoned CCSS.
The WashPost editors write, “States developed the standards, accepted them voluntarily and implement them with local flexibility.” However, development did not precede governors and state superintendents’ signing to agree to adopt—which is by extension an agreement to “accept.”
By June 2009, 46 states and three territories had signed the CCSS MOU agreeing to adopt standards that had yet to be created.
As to that “state developed” line: The CCSS MOU made it clear that three groups would be at the center of CCSS development: ACT, College Board (two testing companies) and Achieve, Inc. (a nonprofit created by NGA in the nid-1990s and that quickly began evaluating state standards). A fourth group at the center of CCSS development was another nonprofit, Student Achievement Partners (SAP), led by David Coleman, an edupreneur whose business ties go back to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s time as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
It was Coleman who accompanied former CCSSO CEO Gene Wilhoit in summer 2008 to ask billionaire Bill Gates to bankroll CCSS—which Gates continues to do. The article revealing this intentional Gates involvement was published in the Washington Post in June 2014.
The intentional arrangement to have Gates as fund CCSS was also poisonous for CCSS.
Five individuals were at the heart of CCSS development. None have K-12 classroom experience. All share a common connection to SAP. Even Wilhoit now works for SAP. As for Coleman, he moved on to become president of College Board.
The control center of CCSS development had nothing to do with being “state led.”
David Coleman has even publicly bragged that he “convinced governors” to sign on for CCSS.
David Coleman was poisonous for CCSS.
Finally, as to the federal role in CCSS: The CCSS MOU clearly acknowledged that it was “appropriate” for the federal government to fiscally support CCSS its Race to the Top and via American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) money slated for CCSS assessments. The federal government was also called upon to fund CCSS implementation and related professional development. But the most obvious federal hand in promoting CCSS came from Duncan, who actually briefed the press in June 2013 on how to report on CCSS and who in November 2013 accused “white suburban moms” of rejecting CCSS because they were learning that they’re kids weren’t as smart as they once thought. Both of these Duncan CCSS-defense blunders were published in the Washington Post.
And through his No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers, Duncan has a number of states on the hook to keep CCSS or have their schools declared as failing.
Duncan was poisonous for CCSS.
Lots of poison here, and none of it “right and left.”
–Mercedes Schneider, author, Common Core Dilemma–Who Owns Our Schools?
There are no stars in my eyes over Common Core, high-stakes testing, or Jeb! Bush, who clearly cares about test-score-driven reform more than he cares about people.
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.
She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published on June 12, 2015.