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Memo To Jonathan Garthwaite, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, and Mark Tapscott: “Common Core” May Be The Thalidomide of Ed Reform. Cover It.

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Dear Big Foot Center-Right Conservative Editors:

I have spent most of the summer traveling the center-right circuit and have figured out that the advance of “Common Core” across the land is an enormous issue for  parents, whatever their ideological leanings on other issues.  It is widely and correctly understood to be disruptive by all and ruinous by many, and it is not believed to be remotely in the tradition of “local control” of American education.

As for its results, well, many fear it is the thalidomide of ed reform.  Early results are not promising, as confusion about what it is and how it is to be implemented reign everywhere.  Ask even a seasoned education professional and you will be greeted with a barrage of cliches and catch-phrases, and no one can point to a concise summary of what “Common Core” means and how and when it is to be introduced.  It has now entered the teacher hiring process, and “familiarity with Common Core concepts and transition” is a hiring criteria which, given its opaque  nature, is a cloak for any decision, whether hiring, firing, promotion, tenure or transfer.

In short, many across the political spectrum fear that Common Core is to education reform what Obamacare has become to health care reform, a vast, slow moving train wreck with enormous costs and many casualties, mostly unseen but with the body count rising.

So cover it.  Extensively.  Assign a team.  Dedicate a section of your website to Common Core stories and stats.  Credential experts.  It is big.  Get ahead of the story, and don’t be worried about offending early supporters like Governor Jeb Bush and the Chamber of Commerce.  Most of them have already seen the derailment and are heading towards the Jindal position of “not in my state, Arne Duncan,” and more state AGs and governors will follow Jindal’s lead and file suit to halt the advance of Big Brother from the Department of Education using the Spending Clause in ways prohibited by the Supreme Court in the Obamacare decision.

Most local school boards are going to have to figure out how to extricate themselves from this mess and to do so without hurting their finances or their collective bargaining agreements.  College admissions offices have got to gear up to decipher the mess that is headed their way as the new curriculums crash into the old and testing both changes and suffers a period of prolonged incoherence.  Parents especially are going to have to show up at school boards and demand answers and accountability.

And somewhere in California and Colorado and other initiative-happy states, some enterprising billionaire is figuring out that he or she can become an instant hero to millions by sponsoring a Common Core ban on the ballot.  That person –well, he or she is going to ride very high in the esteem of parents and teachers across the country.


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