Stanley Kurtz: Common Core 'Gross Abuse of Democracy'

Writing at National Review Online, conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz observed that history will show the sponsors of the Common Core “made a mockery of the Constitution and the democratic process.”

Kurtz is responding to the Washington Post’s “devastating” report of its interview with Bill Gates, the primary source of private funding for the Common Core standards. The interview was, according to the Post’s Lyndsey Layton, conducted in March, but reported on June 7, perhaps due to the fact, as Mercedes Schneider suggests, that in March, “39 states and DC were in legislative session – a session that was particularly stormy for ‘state led’ CCSS. By Saturday, June 7, that number dropped to 11 and DC, with 6 and DC having no session end to anticipate.”

Suspecting bias, Schneider surmises, “Hold the story until the first Saturday in June, when most legislatures are no longer in session. Quite the standards-rescuing coincidence, n’est-ce pas?”

Nevertheless, Kurtz determines, “When the story of the Common Core is finally told, it’s going to be ugly.”

He continues:

It’s going to show how the Obama administration pressed a completely untested reform on the states, evading public debate at both the federal and state levels. It’s going to show how a deliberative process that ought to have taken years was compressed into a matter of months. It’s going to show how legitimate philanthropic funding for an experimental education reform morphed into a gross abuse of democracy. It’s going to show how the Obama Education Department intentionally obscured the full extent of its pressure on the states, even as it effectively federalized the nation’s education system. It’s going to show how Common Core is turning the choice of private — especially Catholic — education into no choice at all.

Kurtz also reminds his readers, “This is the story that opponents of the Common Core have been telling for some time, only to see it dismissed as a crazy conspiracy theory.”

As Breitbart News reported on June 8, Gates told Layton that he donated millions of dollars for both the development and promotion of the Common Core because he believed “the country as a whole has a huge problem that low-income kids get less good education than suburban kids get…”

“What Gates doesn’t say is that Common Core tries to overcome inequality by dumbing down all state standards to a mediocre national mean,” writes Kurtz. In essence, Gates’ social engineering project, however, is “misguided,” he continues, because when “tough tests and high standards create ‘disparities’ between students, a false quality is sought via dumbing down.”

Kurtz adds:

The misguided notion of social justice that stands behind the Common Core excuses in the minds of its advocates evasion, manipulation, and violation of the most basic constitutional and democratic principles. When you fancy yourself a well-intentioned technocrat—a man above politics—your conscience is untroubled by end-runs around silly little things like the consent of the governed.

Conservative Kurtz states that though he does not always agree with liberal education historian Diane Ravitch, he supports her notion of a congressional investigation into the extraordinary intertwining of the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Education Department in their imposition of the Common Core standards on the states.

Several laws prohibit the federal Department of Education from directing, supervising, or controlling programs of instruction in state or local school systems,” Kurtz concludes. “By coordinating with the Gates Foundation, and by other means as well, the Obama department of education appears to have violated that prohibition.”


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