Forward, Not Backward

Kevin Carey, a researcher and scholar at the progressive New America Foundation, has a hard-hitting piece in the New York Times this week about opposition to the Common Core. While I have been studying the local politics of opposition, Carey looks at the national picture, concluding:

…  while Mr. Trump on the stump frequently complains that American test scores lag behind those of other nations, he doesn’t mention that many high -achieving countries have adopted common standards for all students. Why, then, does he hate the Common Core? Because many voters hate the Common Core, which has been subject to an intense disinformation campaign in recent years … In fairness, Mr. Trump is not alone … Ted Cruz has denounced the Common Core … But Mr. Trump, more than his rivals, has made opposition to Common Core a part of the pillar of his (admittedly thin) domestic agenda … It’s a repudiation of four decades of bipartisan effort …”

Coincidentally, lawmakers on Beacon Hill spent much of the day Monday listening to testimony from a Massachusetts group, End Common Core Now, which is joining Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in that disinformation campaign. The group’s leader, Donna Colorio, called the new Massachusetts curriculum frameworks “an educational death spiral,” which is meaningless bombast. A school committee member from Peabody called the adoption of rigorous standards an “unholy alliance between the educational industrial complex and our federal government,” which has the doubly entertaining benefit of being both empirically untrue and a rhetorical rip-off of my argument defending the standards from last week.

In the meantime, parents, teachers, researchers, and educational experts from throughout the Commonwealth testified in favor of staying the course on the new Massachusetts standards. State education Commissioner Mitchell Chester pointed out that a repeal of the standards would be costly, disruptive to teachers, and a setback for accountability. Moreover, continuing to implement the Common Core would be in keeping with Massachusetts’s centuries-long tradition of leading the country on education, from common schools to Horace Mann to the MCAS.

Voters in the Commonwealth will have a chance to express their voice on this topic in November. When they say no to either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, they also should say “No” to repealing the Common Core. Massachusetts has always been a leader in American education, and I would hate to see a group committed to misinformation take us backwards.