Common Core supporter and talk radio host Bill Bennett tweeted that GOP candidate Donald Trump has reached out to him, likely for an opportunity to “talk education and drug policy.”
. @costareports my guess is that Trump will want to talk education and drug policy and other things too. Looking forward to it.
— Bill Bennett (@WilliamJBennett) February 22, 2016
Trump is on record many times saying the federally funded Common Core initiative is a “disaster,” and that he plans to get rid of it and the entire U.S. Department of Education. So the outcome of a “talk” with Bennett, who in 2014 became a paid promoter of the highly unpopular Common Core standards, would be interesting.
Bennett – a former U.S. Education Secretary under President Reagan – veered away from his conservative roots and allowed himself to be hired by lobbying firm DCI Group to write a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, “The Conservative Case for Common Core.”
As Breitbart News reported at the time the op-ed was published, not only did Bennett not adhere to true conservative principles in his piece, he also didn’t seem to know much about the Common Core standards that he was being paid to sell to American conservatives.
“First, we can all agree that there is a need for common standards of assessment in K-12 education,” Bennett wrote, seemingly out of touch with Constitutionalists who know that individual states – and not the federal government – should decide their own education standards.
Neal McCluskey, education director at Cato, responded that Bennett provided no evidence that “we” can “all agree” on the need for common standards.
Bennett attempted to bolster his support for Common Core by asserting the “fundamental idea behind a core curriculum” was “preserving and emphasizing what’s essential, in fields like literature and math, to a worthwhile education,” and referred to this as a “conservative idea.”
The problem is the “idea” of “preserving” essential literature and math was never inherent in Common Core. In fact, one of the major criticisms of Common Core is its devaluation of classical literature in favor of more “informational texts.”
In 2014, Hillsdale College Professor Terrence Moore described how the Common Core standards would put a nail in the coffin of an already suffering progressive education system.
Moore said the English Language Arts standards are serving to remove classical literature from schools and replace it with “informational texts.”
“It’s not till you start asking questions about what’s not in the standards that you realize the bias,” Moore told Breitbart News. “The texts from the standards are superficial, politically biased, and embarrassingly dumb.”
As for math, in March of 2014, Ze’ev Wurman—a former U.S. Department of Education senior policy adviser under President George W. Bush—told Breitbart News, “Common Core claims to prepare students for college, yet, at most, its content prepares them for community and four-year, non-selective colleges. Its own authors admit as much.”
Common Core math standards writer Jason Zimba acknowledged in 2013 that Common Core is “not only not for STEM” careers “but also not for selective colleges…” while at a meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Wurman further commented on the College Board’s decision to align the SAT with the Common Core standards as well.
“This charade is bound to explode, unless a way is found to force regular state colleges to accept the low-level college-readiness offered by the Common Core,” Wurman said. “The goal is, as the College Board says, to ‘bridge economic and demographic barriers’ rather than assure that college freshmen are adequately prepared.”
“So, in the name of this ‘social justice,’ the SAT is now being dumbed down so it will find more students ‘ready,’ whether truly ready or not,” he said.
Stanford University mathematician Dr. James Milgram also warned parents in Texas in September of 2014 that with Common Core, unless students are able to afford exclusive private high school educations that are more challenging, they will be disadvantaged.
“This shows that, from my perspective, Common Core does not come close to the rhetoric that surrounds it,” he added.
Bennett’s op-ed was steeped in pro-Common Core talking points, such as, “Governors, state education administrators and teachers used these principles as a guide when they developed a set of common standards that were later presented to the country as Common Core.”
Critics accused President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan of dangling federal money to encourage states to adopt the Common Core. The administration never should have done this. It made a voluntary agreement among states look like a top-down directive from the federal government. But remember: The original Common Core standards were separate from the federal government, and they can be separated once again.
“Let’s be clear: States adopted the Core, in the vast majority of cases, only after the federal government all but said they had to in order to compete for $4 billion in Race to the Top money,” wrote McCluskey. “Federal force was further applied by the No Child Left Behind waiver program. And all this occurred in the context of federally driven standards and testing since at least 1994.”
More recently, Joanne Weiss, a former Obama administration education department official, admitted the federal government “forced” full support for adoption of the Common Core standards from each state by requiring its governor, chief state school officer, and head of the state board of education to sign off on the Race to the Top federal grant application.
Bennett even seemed to imply there was nothing wrong with states rebranding Common Core with a local-flavor name when grassroots groups are still struggling to have Common Core repealed completely:
Call it Common Core or call it something else, as Arizona has done by renaming its standards “Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards,” but public schools should have high standards based on a core curriculum that is aligned with tests that are comparable across state lines.
Interestingly, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments – also known as the Nation’s Report Card – yielded disastrous results last fall for most of the states that implemented the Common Core standards. Math scores of fourth and eighth graders dropped, and eighth grade reading scores declined as well, while those for fourth graders remained flat.
“Five years into the overhyped and academically mediocre Common Core, the 2015 NAEP data makes clear that the initiative has failed students miserably,” said Jamie Gass, director of the Center for School Reform at the Boston-based think tank, Pioneer Institute.
“Even the nation’s highest performer, Massachusetts, has dropped out of its number one position on the eighth grade 2015 NAEP reading rankings, and overall the impact on the state has been to drive down student achievement,” he added. “Together with the national data, this is a pretty damning indication of the real-life effect of Common Core’s cutting higher quality classic literature, poetry, and drama. It’s just another example of a Beltway-driven K-12 education reform failure.”