Common Core: Fisking Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern

Apple Core BroomYesterday in Porter-Magee and Stern On Common Core: Nothing to See Here, Move Along, I linked to Neal McCluskey’s post,  Look at No Child Left Behind. See, No Federal Control. Wait…, in which he began fisking Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern’s column at NRO that purports to tell The Truth about Common Core. Today the fisking continues.

Shane Vander Hart, communications director for the American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative, and blogger at Truth in American Education, has written a lengthy rebuttal in Six Reasons Why Conservatives (Should) Object to the Common Core.

Kathleen Porter-Magee & Sol Stern ask in the subheading of their National Review article defending the Common Core State Standards…“why are prominent conservatives criticizing a set of rigorous educational standards?”…

There are six primary reasons really…

  1. There is nothing conservative about centralizing education around a set of common standards.
  2. Conservatives object to the process in which they were adopted which allowed for little to no public debate, cut out the legislative process, and was introduced via the backdoor which cut out “We the People.”
  3. While perhaps the intent was not to have hyper-federal involvement, but the fact remains it does which violates the constitution and Federal law.
  4. Conservatives typically don’t approve of student privacy being violated by data mining which will be fostered through the assessment consortiums.
  5. They simply are not rigorous, they are mediocre and the embrace of the Common Core represents a collective race to the middle.
  6. They are costly and states adopted the Common Core and entered into assessment consortium without having a handle on the costs. Is this good fiscal discipline?

He provides unassailable verification with extensive quotes and numerous embedded links, and in his conclusion states unequivocally, “None of these are conservative values.”

At Common Core Education Without Representation, Christel Swasey writes, Hogwash Alert: “National Review” on Common Core. She’s also written a lengthy rebuttal with embedded links, and nails Porter-Magee and Stern on their conflict of interests, fallacies, and propaganda. She brings her credentials as an English teacher to bear in her criticism, and she’s irate the way only a mother can be irate when the well-being of children is threatened.

…The ironically titled The Truth About Common Core article cannot be taken seriously. It’s written without any links or references for its Common Core-promoting claims, and it’s written by two authors whose employers are largely funded by the main funder of all things Common Core….

The National Review writes that it is a ”right-of-center” organization, as if that claim is a “trust-me” pass. This is meaningless in Common Core land because, as Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, has said,  ”Opposition to Common Core cuts across the left-right spectrum. It gets back to who should control our children’s education — people in Indiana or people in Washington?”

But we should clarify that oodles of Democrats and Republicans sell or benefit from Common Core implementation. That is the top reason for the gold rush anxiety to promote the national standards. A secondary reason is lemminghood (misplaced and unproven trust)….

The Common Core movement is not about what’s best for children. It’s about greed and political control. A simple test: if Common Core was about helping students achieve legitimate classical education, wouldn’t the Common Core experiment have been based on empirical study and solid educator backing?…

The National Review authors insist that Common Core is not a stealth “leftist indoctrination” plot by the Obama administration. But that’s what it looks like when you study the reformers and what they create….

I was especially appreciative of her comments about Linda Darling-Hammond, who I wrote about in The Radical Fingerprints On Common Core.

It’s safe to say that Linda Darling-Hammond has as much say as anyone in this country when it comes to education policy.  She focuses on “equity” and “social justice” –that is, redistribution of wealth using schools.  Reread that last sentence.

Darling-Hammond has worked for CCSSO (Common Core developer) since long before the standards were even written.  She served on the standards validation committee. She now works for SBAC (the Common Core test writer); she also consults with AIR (Utah’s Common Core test producer) and advises Obama’s administration; she promotes the secretive CSCOPE curriculum and more.

Swasey concludes with one last criticism of their propaganda techniques.

Finally: the “most annoying manipulation tactic” award for the National Review Article is a tie between the last two sentences of the National Review article, which, combined, say, “Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards… aren’t they still?”  Please.

Let’s rephrase it:

Americans used to be in favor of legitimate, nonexperimental standards for children that were unattached to corporate greed and that were constitutionally legal…  Aren’t we still?

While there is some overlap, these two posts complement each other in their evaluation. Between the three of them, Neal McCluskey, Shane Vander Hart, and Christel Swasey, they decimate the claims of Porter-Magee and Stern—and then sweep the dust away.

To Fisk:

…an Internet argument tactic involving a reprinting of an article or blog post, interlarded with rebuttals and refutations, often intended to show the original is a sandpile of flawed facts, unfounded assertions, and logical fallacies.

Diamond Border

UPDATE: At NRO’s Corner, Joy Pullman joins the pile-on in It Doesn’t Take a Tinfoil Hat to Critique Common Core, and pulls no punches (emphasis added and embedded links removed).

Contrary to the suggestion of Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern on NRO yesterday, you do not have to sport a tinfoil tricorn to believe Common Core curriculum and testing requirements are not only low-quality, but yet another threat to the American tradition of individual liberty and limited government.

The duo, one of whom I’ve heard out, paste unsubstantiated dreams onto a project prefacing national control over education….

The pair deceptively wrote that the Obama administration “has stated that adoption of ‘college and career readiness standards’ doesn’t necessarily mean adoption of Common Core,” but failed to mention that no standards but Common Core fit the administration’s definition of such standards….

…Porter-Magee and Stern’s purportedly conservative arguments essentially constitute doublespeak on every point.

There is no evidence Common Core will improve education. It’s never been field-tested, and research suggests education standards have no effect on student learning: Many states with high standards have low achievement, and vice versa. So why this horrific waste of time? Is it for the national student databases of test scores, hobbies, family income, voting status, health records, and more?

And how are all of these arrangements conducive to individual rights and limited government?

NRO should never have published the Porter-Magee and Stern piece in the first place, but to do so without without a side by side rebuttal was irresponsible, because a time lag allows the sowing of lies and doubt.
Apple Core modified from Apple Stark by Roberta F. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, and Thumbtack by Kalan. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
“fisk.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 04 Apr. 2013. <>.

One thought on “Common Core: Fisking Kathleen Porter-Magee and Sol Stern

  1. What has happened to America. In 1961, I was 10 years old. I had already read Moby Dick, The Iliad and The Odyssey. I was about to start on my first collection of Chekhov short stories and the world was my educational oyster. Two years later, at 12, I was expected to write a 100 page report with charts, graphs, illustration, photographs, bibliography and footnotes on the nation of my choosing. The annual “country report” required by 8th grade History (I skipped a grade) was not a chore. It was a semester long journey to explore the culture and history of the Hungarian Republic from its inception in the late 9th century CE. through the terrible days of the 1956 uprising and the aftermath. I was thrilled by every moment of my education. I started NYU Film School at 16 and I never looked back.I cherish every morsel and crumb of knowledge I had the privilege and pleasure to learn throughout my entire life. I pity the kids of today. 90% of American college students surveyed after the Iron Lady’s death didn’t know who Margaret Thatcher was. How is this even possible? What are they teaching American children. College students don’t even recognize the name of one of modern history’s most important political leaders and most American students don’t know when the civil war took place. Are we trying to turn out another generation of self centered morons with cell phones glued to their heads or did the world end and I missed it?

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