Sunday, October 5, 2014

CAP says the Common Core is a manufactured crisis by Michael McShane

Image Credit: shutterstock
On Friday, Max Marchitello of the Center for American Progress published a report, “Politics Threaten Efforts to Improve K-12 Education.” In it, he argues that “both public interest and opinion of the Common Core reacts to—rather than causes—the politicization of the standards.”
Now that is a pretty hefty claim. It would seem like the most straightforward explanation of the public’s interest in the Common Core is that 45 states and the District of Columbia (educating some 40 million-plus students) chose to align their K-12 instruction to the standards. That’s more than 40 million reasons for parents to care.
Not so, says Marchitello. Using Google Trends data from January 2010 to August 2014, he argues “each spike in public interest centers on controversial topics that often mischaracterize the Common Core as federal intrusion into state affairs” (“Spike in public interest” is measured by the number of times people google “Common Core”).
By Marchitello’s telling, from 2010 to 2012 folks didn’t know much about the Common Core, and those who did liked it. Then Republican governors (and the media who carried water for them) got ahold of the Common Core and turned public opinion against it, and that is why we are where we are today.
This explanation strains credulity.
First, why on earth would a politician attack a policy that people don’t know about, and one they like when they learn more about it? Seems a bit counterintuitive.
Second, Marchitello links the first really enormous spike in interest with a story from the Kansas City Star (Go Royals!) called “Common Core is Brainchild of State Educators, Not a Federal Power Grab for Kid’s Minds” which he said is an example, identified by Google Trends, of the kind of news articles published in the month of that spike in interest.
What was that month, you ask? September of 2013. Other than politicians talking about Common Core, what else might have happened that month that would have spiked public interest? Oh yeah, tens of millions of school children went back to school. So either it is a coordinated Republican blitz, aided and abetted by a complicit media, or parents seeing their kids coming home with new worksheets. I’ll let you pick which one sounds more likely.
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