Gates-Funded Fordham Institute's Petrilli: 'Pro-Common Core Side Is Still Way Out Ahead'

Ardent Common Core supporter Mike Petrilli, who, as of August 1, is the new president of the Fordham Institute, wrote in a piece on the organization’s website that though “there’s little doubt that in the ‘air war’ over the Common Core – especially in the conservative media – we’re getting our butts kicked,” the fact that 42 states are still on board with the controversial standards means that “the pro-Common Core side is still way out ahead.”

Petrilli wrote in response to significant criticism resulting from a Politico article that highlighted the strength of the anti-Common Core grassroots campaign, run mostly by "moms," that has made the controversial standards a hot electoral issue. Armed with $10.3 million in fresh grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Common Core proponents now have plans for a PR blitz that supporters hope will promote similar “emotional” fervor for the standards initiative.

“Expect to start hearing from frustrated college students who ended up in remedial classes even though they passed all their state tests and earned good grades in high school,” wrote Stephanie Simon at Politico last week about the new plan.

“These kids should be mad as hell” that their elementary and high schools failed them, said Petrilli, whose organization has been funded by the Gates Foundation to help promote the Common Core.

Common Core supporters are retooling after having spent millions of dollars on the talking points that tout the “rigor” of the never-tested standards that 46 states signed onto – sight unseen.

“We’ve been fighting emotion with talking points, and it doesn’t work,” said Petrilli. “There’s got to be a way to get more emotional without arguments if we want to win this thing. That means we have a lot more work to do.”

Parents, however, who have been organizing grassroots groups for the past several years against the Common Core standards in their schools, believe the fact that the initiative needs a new PR campaign is the main issue.

“The fact that the standards need a PR campaign should be very telling how ineffective their facts and figures have been,” Yvonne Gasperino and Glen Dalgleish, cofounders of Stop Common Core in New York State, told Breitbart News in an email statement. “If Common Core is so effective and gives a first-rate education why spend all the money for this PR stunt? An effective education program should teach all children and should be able to hold up on its own merit. Common Core does not do that.”

Gasperino and Dalgleish take offense at the idea that Petrilli wants Americans to get more “emotional” about the controversial standards.

“Petrilli's idea of getting ‘emotional’ is yet again to blame schools and teachers for all that is wrong in public education and to get ‘voters’ excited about change,” they add. “Sounds business as usual to us. Maybe Petrilli needs to focus on the real victims of Common Core, the children.”

Petrilli acknowledged the criticism Common Core supporters had received for their decision to focus on emotion in their new PR campaign.

“The current narrative – pushed by Politico and other media outlets – is that the anti-Common Core forces have momentum on their side,” Petrilli said. ”Glenn Beck is making money from movie-ticket and book sales. Republican governors are running scared. Red states are starting to topple.”

Petrilli asserts, however, that despite all the pushback from the grassroots organizers, only one state – Oklahoma – has actually repealed the standards without rebranding them.

“So for all of the screaming and fighting and bombastic headlines, the opponents of the Common Core have, to date, managed to knock off only Oklahoma, which, by many accounts is the most conservative state in the land,” he boasts. “That’s worth keeping in mind.”


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