The man behind the curtain
Diane Ravitch: Time for Congress to investigate Bill Gates' role in Common Core
And here is William McCallum, lead writer of CC math standards, winning friends and influencing people.
Ed and I were talking about McCallum's post last night. People who know him say he's a nice guy, and I'm sure that's true. But his post is a lollapalooza of name-calling and nitpicking, both of which continue apace in the comments thread.
Which took me aback, because it's not the tone I'm used to hearing college professors take in public. (It's not the tone I'm used to hearing college professors take in private.)
I'm used to college professors sounding....you know, professorial.
I never hear college professors sounding furiously wronged and internet-y.
For me, this situation is something of a first. I'm accustomed to academic content coming from publishing houses, which have corporate leaders and marketing departments, and which, as a consequence, do not have textbook authors venting in public.
But with Common Core, there's no corporate parent and no marketing department. There's just Bill Gates and the many NGO's, state departments of education, and think tanks he bankrolls, plus the federal Department of Education (whose head was previously bankrolled by Gates), so there's no party discipline. Gates appears to see himself as CEO and absolute ruler of his foundation in the same way he was CEO and absolute ruler of Microsoft, but when push comes to shove, where Common Core is concerned, he can't actually fire anyone.
He can't order Common Core defenders to vet their posts with marketing.
The federal government can't step in, either, mostly because the federal government isn't supposed to be writing national standards in the first place (not mandatory ones), and because Arne Duncan's one foray into enlightening suburban parents as to the non-brilliant state of their schools & their children was a debacle of epic proportion. For months now, we've have silence from the top.
So...the defense of Common Core is turning into a free-for-all, and the story-line is getting lost in a bombardment of "process" stories and op-eds about the tea party (bad) and the Democratic Party's standardized-test-hating base (also bad).*
Op eds about the tea party and the Democratic base are bad for Common Core. I'm pretty sure.
They're bad because nobody likes being told they're an idiot for not agreeing with David Brooks -- especially not being told they're an idiot for not agreeing with David Brooks by David Brooks. Being told that only tea partiers and members of the Democratic Party's standardized-test-hating base don't like Common Core makes me not like Common Core. Also, it makes me want to join the tea party and the Democratic base.
Point is: if the defense of Common Core is to be left to volunteers, then Common Core is going to die an unusually painful death.
Bill Gates "Letter to Our Partners" (the aforementioned NGO's, state departments of education, and think tanks plus the federal Department of Education) is just the start.
* David Brooks, has yet another bad idea.