Near the end of November, Mike Petrelli and Michael Brickman of Thomas B. Fordham Institute (a “conservative” education think-tank) penned an opinion piece for the Cour d’alene Press extolling the “conservative” virtues of Common Core. Interestingly, at the end of October that exact same editorial appeared in at least five other states, but with the appropriate state name substitutions in place. (i.e. ‘Idaho’ replaced ‘Florida‘ or Indiana’ to name just a few…)
Shortly thereafter, Kevin Miller at 580 KIDO extended an invitation for Stacey and I to “debate” the young Mr. Brickman on the merits of Common Core for Idaho yesterday, December 13th. Right out of the gate, Mr. Brickman dominated the conversation touting the same tired talking points that every proponent of common core repeats, whether they’re Republican or Democrat, “conservative” or liberal. I couldn’t help but notice he sounded condescending and impatient with those of us in flyover country who just don’t get it…
Well, Mr. Brickman, we get it!
Without the millions and millions in financial backing enjoyed by groups such as the Fordham Institute or paid spokesmen like Mr. Brickman, and no one subsidizing or paying us for time spent away from our families, we have pored over original documents, research papers, studied footnotes and listened to education experts from around the country on our own time and dime. With a firm love of freedom and an understanding of the basic ideals in the U.S. Constitution we’ve come to our own conclusions of Common Core – which differ greatly from those Mr. Brickman is being paid to support.
With that said, there are a couple of points that really need clarification from yesterday’s “debate:”
- Mr. Brickman cited a recent poll by Scholastic (guess who they get a TON of money from?? Anyone.., anyone… Bueller…) which seems to indicate strong support for Common Core among Idaho’s teachers. First of all, this poll was taken just one month after the beginning of this school year. Idaho teachers and schools had literally just begun to implement and use Common Core in the classroom in September. Other states, like New York, for example, are 2-3 years ahead of Idaho in applying Common Core to day-to-day classroom teaching. So, in reality, this poll has very little validity!
- With regards to using the term “federal mandate” to describe how we got roped into this Common Core mess, Mr. Brickman is technically correct. Common Core is not a mandate in the sense No Child Left Behind was, but it’s certainly nothing less than federal coercion. The states were coerced into agreeing to adopt Common Core by:
- First, by applying for hundreds of millions in State Fiscal Stabilization Fund money. (in 2009 most states were cash-strapped and agreed to anything to feed at the federal money trough)
- Second, through applying for Race to the Top education grant money. (even though Idaho didn’t receive any monetary award, they had to agree to the yet unwritten and unfinished Common Core education package)
- Third, feeling compelled to beg for a two-year reprieve from some of the most rigid requirements of No Child Left Behind. (thanks, again, to President Bush…)
- Finally, yes, Mr. Brickman, of course we can all agree that higher standards are in the best interest of our children and country’s future. That’s a given. But, why in the world are we bent on using untried, untested, and unproven methods that will drain time, money and educational control away from parents, school districts and states? Money. That’s why. It’s all about money. The “education-industrial” complex of corporations (i.e. Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, among others), non-governmental organizations (i.e. Gates Foundation, Fordham Institute, CCSSO, National Governor’s Association, the PTA, to name just a few), and public-private partnerships (for-profit charter schools) has billions at stake here.
So, while Mr. Brickman and Mr. Petrelli are traveling the country via their letter to the editor, we, here in Idaho, are going to continue to work on forming and supporting our own fact-based, informed opinions in order to reclaim our state and local educational sovereignty.
These are the correct 4 pillars. I goofed up one of them during the debate.