At Congressman Randy Hultgren’s “Common Core Summit” there were three people critiquing the new educational standards adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in 2010 and one in favor.
The outspoken proponent was conservative think tank Fordham Institute Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli. He was paired with Illinois Association of School Boards Deputy Execute Director Ben Schwarm on the proponent side of the room, but Petrilli seemed pretty lonely during most of the presentation.
In any event, Petrilli, who served in the George W. Bush Administration, offered this challenge:
“I dare you to find one [standard] that you disagree with.”
He said that Illinois’ mid-1990’s standards were weak and the Common Core replacements were stronger.
He bemoaned math standards that had high school graduates having to take remedial courses in junior college.
Bob Bowdon, Executive Director of Choice Media, who directed the movie “The Cartel” about the education industry in New Jersey, and Erin Raasch, founder of StopCommonCoreIllinois.org, composed the avowed opponents to Common Core.
While most attention has been paid to the Standards, all seemed leery that the Assessment portion of the program could end up causing unintended consequences.
Bowdon attacked the top down model, arguing that “centralization” would limit competition when innovation in education was flourishing in various states, e.g., 90% of schools in New Orleans are charter schools.
“Why would you want national standards?”
Raash attacked false advertising by proponents.
She pointed particularly to the claim that the Standards had been “Internationally benchmarked.”
She said the national web site had taken down that claim.
When I looked at the ISBE web site, I found the claim at the bottom of the page.
Raasch agreed on the threat to competition.
“They’re forgetting about market forces.
“Common Core will destroy school choice.”
No one seemed to have an answer to where adequate funds would be found to allow all students to take Assessment tests simultaneously on computers.
Petrilli pointed out that three approaches tried so far to improve education had not worked:
- Putting a lot of money in
- Certifying teachers
- Lowering classroom size
He argued that society should “focus on results and otherwise free you up on how to get to them.”
Dr. Suzie Morrison, Deputy Illinois Superintendent of Education since 2007, gave a history of Common Core in Illinois, stressing that it resulted from state superintendents coming together and deciding that working together on new standards made more sense than each of them doing it separately.
She said the new standards are “fewer, clearer and expectations are higher.”
Petrilli revealed that Illinois’ old standards had been graded “D” for reading and math, while the new one for English got a “A-” and the new math standard received an “A-.”
Bruno Behrend, Executive Director of For the Good of Illinois and a Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Heartland Institute, moderated the affair.
A couple of hundred people attended the McHenry County College event. From the audience reaction, I concluded that the majority were questioning the new standards.