Thursday, January 16, 2014

George Will on the Common Core Standards: They're Fine, Unless Uncle Sam Likes Them

Thank goodness Will is without affectation. Otherwise he'd be insufferable.

George Will is an uncommon intellectual. Well, he's actually common, in the sense that his brain's wattage has diminished considerably over the years, except for his anodyne, recondite, jejune, post-vernacular, hypo-degenerative, sanguine, condign bloviating. That remains in tip-top condition. His vocabulary droppings are like signposts along a look-at-me-look-at-me highway to I'm-smarter-than-youLand.

What's uncommon about George Will is the lengths he'll go to trash anything that appears out-of-step with his really, very out-of-step conservatism. If there's a federal tone to something, it's socialism WRIT LARGE. If the states get to do it, it must be okay, unless, of course, it's a blue, blue state like California, then it's socialism beneath contempt.

There, I found it, George Will embodies contempt. And contemptuous is how he feels about the Common Core curriculum standards that have spread to 45 states and the District of Columbia, as demonstrated in his latest bloviation at WaPo, in which he avers:
Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.
The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn. It is the thin end of an enormous wedge. It is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of centralization and uniformity.
 Bah, humbug, George. Yes, the purpose of the new standards is to reach uniformity across state lines. Why? So that progress can be measured and tested across state lines. Centralization? Hardly. The Common Core standards grew out of the experiences of the several states. The fact that the Obama administration is encouraging their adoption by handing out cash doesn't make it a federal program or initiative. No Child Left Behind was a federal initiative driven nationwide by blows from a mighty sledgehammer. George, there's a difference.

I'm still examining the Common Core standards myself, so this isn't an I'm-right-you're-wrong thing. What's important to note is that George Will doesn't reference one iota of the Common Core standards in order to reject them. That Barack Obama and Arne Duncan encourage them is what has his ire afire. Even WaPo's own Michael Gerson thinks Will's opposition is much ado about nothing:
This contrast is increasingly evident in the debate over the Common Core State Standards. To ideological conservatives, it is the “Obamacore”; an “unprecedented federal intervention into education”; a “threat to the American tradition of individual liberty and limited government.” According to a recent resolution passed by the Republican National Committee, the Common Core is “a nationwide straightjacket on academic freedom and achievement.”
This is mostly a projection of baseless political fears. The Common Core standards are actually an attempt by governors — including many conservative, Republican governors — to set some coherent standards on what children should know about math and English by various grade levels. It emphasizes analytic reasoning and the interpretation of “informational texts,” including historical documents such as the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.
Sounds rather non-partisan to me. The hyper-centrist (in other words, right-of-center) Washington Post's own editorial board likes the Common Core:
LOST IN the hysteria being whipped up about Common Core standards is that the movement to infuse new rigor in schools started at the state level. Governors and state education officials, alarmed that U.S. students were being outpaced globally, banded together to develop clear and consistent standards. This sensible and badly needed reform should not be derailed by misguided and misinformed opposition.
Ouch, George Will! Et tu, Fred Hiatt?

There is criticism across the spectrum of the Common Core standards, many of which are valid and others worth examining. But before our Georgie boy goes off on them -- as he has so haphazardly against climate change -- he ought to act like he knows what he's talking about. Otherwise, we might think his pique is rather peckish, n'est pas?

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