Response to: Public Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards (Southern Poverty Law Center).
I agree that the debate about the common core must be rooted in the facts, and that the "propoganda machine on the right" has "polluted the debate" with outrageous accusations. There are, however, serious and legitimate arguments against the common core.
The stated reason for the common core is the supposedly poor performance of American students. But when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American students' international test scores are at the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular (but not terrible) because we have so much child poverty, 24%, the second highest among all economically advanced countries.
Poverty means poor diet, inadequate health care, and little or no access to books. All of these have devastating effects on school performance. The best teaching has little effect when children are hungry, ill and have nothing to read.
The common core not only ignores the real problem; it does nothing to protect children from the effects of poverty. It only offers us a an extremely expensive plan with no basis in the research: There is no research supporting "tough" standards or nonstop testing. Also, studies show that increasing testing does not improve school achievement.
The common core is a bad solution that is aimed at the wrong problem.
Levels of poverty:
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre 2012, ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.
Control for poverty:
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/Bracey-Report. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012. http://www.epi.org/).
“Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books”:
Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential; Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership 55(4): 18-22.
Increasing testing does not mean greater achievement:
Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. OECD. Tienken, C., 2011. Common core standards: An example of data-less decision-making. Journal of Scholarship and Practice. American Association of School Administrators [AASA], 7(4): 3-18. http://www.aasa.org/jsp.aspx.