Friday, August 1, 2014

The Common Condescension

Politico had a particularly agitating article about the Common Core out yesterday entitled, "Moms winning the Common Core war."

First  of all "war"? I am about to declare war on writers of ridiculous headlines. . .

Anyway, to get to the content of the article. Basically, Common Core advocates have decided that they need a new PR strategy:
Supporters of the Common Core academic standards have spent big this past year to persuade wavering state legislators to stick with the new guidelines for math and language arts instruction. Given the firestorm of opposition that took them by surprise, they consider it a victory that just five states, so far, have taken steps to back out. 
But in a series of strategy sessions in recent months, top promoters of the standards have concluded they’re losing the broader public debate — and need to devise better PR.
Granted there is plenty of misinformation surrounding the Common Core debate, and there are plenty of people who are misinformed, some willfully so, Glen, ahem, Beck, or who just hate Obama and the United Nations. But otherwise, this approach is maddening. It's the same reformy solution to disagreement and dissent that we've witnessed for nearly a decade, i.e., there's nothing wrong with the substance of our reforms, it's just the style with which they're presented. Or, to use business parlance, there's nothing wrong with our product, we just need to sell/market it better. 

The contempt is just dripping:
“The Common Core message so far has been a head message. We’ve done a good job talking about facts and figures. But we need to move 18 inches south and start talking about a heart message,” said Wes Farno, executive director of the Higher State Standards Partnership, a coalition supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
We’re so good at all our statistics and data and rational arguments … [but] emotion is what gets people feeling passionate,” Oldham said. “It may not be the most comfortable place for the business community … [but] we need to get better at doing it.”

People who criticize the Common Core are just emotional. We have to speak emotional back to them. Here we've been giving them the facts and well, I'll be! That doesn't work. Those emotional people, the are too simple-minded to handle the truth and the facts, gosh darnit! Let's get tugging on their heart-strings with some videos.

And then there's this:
“The bottom line here is that parents need more information, and maybe we haven’t been good enough at telling them the story,” said Karen Nussle, a veteran PR strategist who runs the Collaborative for Student Success.
Right, parents and Common Core skeptics just need more in-for-ma-tion. They don't have enough! That's why they don't like the Common Core--because they don't know anything! Gee, I wonder how that could be when the Common Core has only been reported and/or promoted on every major news outlet and education blog there is.

Finally, there's Common Core Noonegivesashithowyoufeel architect David Coleman:
Common Core supporters acknowledge they also erred in publicly belittling opponents as silly, ignorant or outright kooky. “We make a great mistake by caricaturing the opponents of the standards as crazies or people who don’t tell the truth,” David Coleman, an architect of the standards, told Bloomberg EDU recently.
Yes, again the thinking is, we made a mistake in how we "belittled" and "caricatured" opponents rather than we made a mistake in not listening to our critics and acting on some of their criticisms. At some point, you actually have to listen to people and act upon on their (legitimate) criticisms and feedback, not send a kinder, gentler salesperson to their door armed with some ridiculous video about some student who learned a new word.

Just as I have always agreed that many of our nation's public school systems need reform, I agree that they need a common basic, broad set of knowledge, concepts, and skills. The reformers and Common Core advocates started out with decent popular support and had a tremendous opportunity and unheard of sums of money to work on this. Too bad they've squandered both.

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