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Get this: Privatizers see the Common Core as a Distraction from school choice!

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I always consider policy discussions about privatization – proposals to dismantle public education and replace it with charters, vouchers and home schools  – a distraction from the real project of making our public schools the best in the world.  But anti-Common Core activists have the gall to see the work needed to move our schools forward – like increasing expectations by instituting higher standards like the Common Core – as a distraction from their privatization goal!  

Just think about that.

New Hampshire’s anti-Common Core activists express these very views (a point I first made here) but the American Principles Project further fleshed out this manifesto on its blog a couple of days ago.  Here’s an excerpt: 

American Principles Project has been an advocate for school choice since our inception.  We have been alarmed how the Common Core State Standards  has been an intrusion for private schools and even homeschoolers.  In principle we desire greater choice in education as parents should have sovereignty over how their children learn.  The Common Core diminishes parental choice as they are confronted by “common standards” at every turn.  Robert Holland of The Heartland Institute gave a dire warning last month saying that the Common Core would cripple school choice.

Ultimately, disempowerment may be the main reason for parental angst. Unless it is stopped, Common Core will deliver a devastating blow to parental choice at all levels. The one, limited power possessed by most public-school parents is the ability to seek change at the local school board. Unfortunately, the corporate and foundation-funded sponsors of CCSS copyrighted the standards and set up no process for local amendment.

The greatest leverage for parents comes when they can use vouchers or tax-credit scholarships to transfer their children to private or parochial schools. But even in a state with as strong a voucher program as Indiana, the government requires schools accepting voucher students to administer the official test, which has opened the door wide to CCSS-style assessment. Thus will governmental creep dilute the liberating effect of school choice.

Nor will homeschooling parents be exempt if CCSS stands, because many states also require home educators to administer the official test. Even more insidious, Common Core lead writer David Coleman (formerly a testing consultant) now heads the College Board and has vowed to align the SAT with the nationalized standards. Thus any student—whether from public, private, parochial, or home school—will have to be Common Core-acclimated.

….

via Common Core Is a Distraction From School Choice.

So there you have it.  The privatizers see the Common Core as a threat to their goal of dismantling American public education.  Naturally.


9 Comments

  1. Scott Marion says:

    So the folks from the American Principles Project have a problem with the CCSS because the standards will help ameliorate the current local unevenness in the implementation of state standards. Implementation of the common core is still a local decision, so they are wrong about this premise of their argument. But when schools do a good job implementing the standards and improve their performance, then the market for private schools shrinks, and this appears to be at the root of their concerns. It would be nice if they could just be straight about their real aims.

  2. Jack Blodgett says:

    Bill,

    Do you notice any discrepancy in substance or tone between these two statements from, I believe two separate posts:

    “We pride ourselves on our open public debate here in New Hampshire. I hope that will never change. Common Core opponents should get a fair public hearing.”

    “I always consider policy discussions about privatization – proposals to dismantle public education and replace it with charters, vouchers and home schools – a distraction from the real project of making our public schools the best in the world.”

    It doesn’t really matter to me, subscribing as I do to the precept that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. But I’d still like to point out an important distinction that is somewhat clouded within your point about privatization: charter schools are public schools, most of which are independent of management by “privatizers,” and many of which are not even launched with the market concept of “choice” in mind.

    But I’m sure you already know this very well. What you may not be as aware of are the many charter schools that respond directly to some very distinctive interests of students – not to the political, social, racial, religious, or economic interests of parents, or of entrepreneurs out to create a niche market – but of students themselves. As I have stated or implied in other posts, an educator would have to be blind or reckless to ignore the Common Core in designing curriculum and preparing for required state assessments. However, if we recognize the legitimacy of providing for students who thrive in some school environments and languish in others, we can understand the potential of Common Core proselytizing to “distract” from the more fundamental process of maintaining the fidelity of the working system to the design found successful in fostering significant growth among the students who have gravitated to the school, making the school what it, in fact, is.

    But perhaps you even find the often innovative work of these schools to be a distraction from the project of promoting greater standardization within and across all public schools?

    All this said, I also agree with your larger point about the dangers of allowing a loose confederacy of institutions throughout the state and nation to weaken the already tenuous unity of purpose that we’d hope to see guide the evolution of our public schools as a whole.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Jack, I agree with most of what you have said here about charters. That’s the thing about charters: they are charismatic and potentially educationally productive local projects for those involved. And, especially up to now in NH, they have formed for idealistic reasons. Almost half our charters serve at-risk kids, as you know.

      But, unfortunately, you’re not right about the numbers involved. Nationally, the greatest number of charters are run by multi-school chains which, whether they are nonprofit or for profit, share the privatization goal of replacing traditional public schools on a large scale. The energy behind charters on a national level is political, not primarily educational. (Statistically, over-all, they do not outperform public schools.) They have been co-opted by anti-union and free market folks who see them as a wholesale private alternative to traditional public schools.

      And, btw, these folks are not supporters of schools like your daughter’s, which they patronize as in, “We’re talking about high quality charters like KIPP not the mom and pops.”

      So, yes, they have played a good role in NH up to now because they have filled an important niche and we have kept the predatory K12’s of the world out. But they are not a replacement for district schools.

      And no one is “proselytizing” for the Common Core. I, for one, am responding to a rear guard attack that I consider a distraction from the real work of improving our schools.

      • Jack Blodgett says:

        Bill,

        Check out the National Education Policy Center’s report in for-profit and non-profit EMOs and you’ll find that less than 36% of current charters (and 44% of all charter students) are connected with these private management organizations: http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/emo-profiles-11-12.pdf

        Please also check out the organization “Education Evolving” in MN (where chartering began) to get a perspective on a rationale that sheds more light on what you tend to broad-brush as primarily a political effort to destroy the mainstream public system. I’d consider this rationale to be very friendly to regular public schools, and, though I have personal experience with other “friendlies” around the country, I honestly cannot quantify their comparative influence on the stance of EMO-charters as a whole with regard to coopting or replacing traditional public schools. I do believe, however, that their influence is substantial enough to temper your categorical position to some significant extent — despite the truth of what you claim about the political motives.

        • Bill Duncan says:

          Sorry for the error, Jack. I was aware that not checking was risky. At 44% of students, though, I wasn’t too far off…and it won’t be long before the number goes higher.

          On the motivation and friendlies or not: I think the issue is structural, not a matter of what particular school sponsors have in mind. Each child who leaves a district school for a charter costs the district over $4k in NH and more in other places. In the big cities, huge swaths of traditional public schools are being shut down and replaced with charters instead of fixed. It doesn’t matter what the motivation of the charter managers is, the result is to leave the traditional system damaged.

  3. Jack Blodgett says:

    I agree about the structural issue, though I still believe the “friendlies” question matters a great deal as well. Ideally, I see charters as a component of a district system, where resources are shared/allocated according to a visionary strategic plan for education in a given community, and functioning much like magnet programs. The value-added of a charter is the much heavier involvement of parents, students, community in setting forth an exceptionally distinct and worthwhile purpose, and in planning for interaction within the larger system. And that’s where the “friendlies” question can matter the most. I think I mentioned that I was also the charter school liaison for Greenville County School District, where I tried to work with area charters to make everything work together. Interesting – and I think unfortunate – that we seem to have difficulty thinking this way in New Hampshire.

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